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Blushing bitterly: an affective and literary history of racial uplift after Reconstruction

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Title
Blushing bitterly: an affective and literary history of racial uplift after Reconstruction
Name (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Everett
NamePart (type = given)
Gabrielle Kunti Marie
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1985-
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Gabrielle Kunti Marie Everett
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author
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Jones
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Douglas A
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Douglas A Jones
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chair
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Luciano
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Dana
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Dana Luciano
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internal member
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Cheryl A
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Cheryl A Wall
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Jarrett
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Gene Andrew
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Gene Andrew Jarrett
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Advisory Committee
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outside member
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Rutgers University
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degree grantor
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School of Graduate Studies
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school
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Text
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theses
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2019
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2019-05
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2019
Language
LanguageTerm (authority = ISO 639-3:2007); (type = text)
English
Abstract (type = abstract)
“Blushing Bitterly” asks: how did African American writers manage, deploy, and even circumscribe feeling during the era of racial uplift? African American writers and activists understood the question of feeling as central to national belonging. When the Supreme Court passed the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision on the basis that it protected public feeling, the nation thereby segregated sentiment and belonging along racial lines. At the same time, racial uplift leaders and institutions espoused a politics of respectability that asked African Americans to monitor their affect. Yet novels by Charles Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Pauline E. Hopkins, Sutton Griggs, and W.E.B. Du Bois unleash unmanaged feeling to articulate claims to belonging within and beyond the US. “Blushing Bitterly” therefore complicates our understanding of the racial uplift movement as an affectively conservative project. Against uplifters’ explicit advice to temper feelings of anger or bitterness, many creative works of this era privilege an uncontainable, unmanageable surfeit of feeling. This surfeit is the location, I argue, of progressive potential.
This project takes up the question of literary form to rethink the racial uplift movement’s affective parameters. It argues that the novel is the central medium through which uplift authors theorized affect. Each chapter positions such uplift novels as Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition (1901), Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods, Hopkins’ Of One Blood (1902-3), and Du Bois’ Dark Princess alongside racial uplift manuals, essays, speeches, and journals. These chapters then consider the affective aims of racial uplift philosophy in the spheres of the public and the private, the body and mind, and the globe. While Chesnutt and Dunbar remain firmly situated in the US, their novels reveal a deep frustration with the nation. In contrast, the novels of Hopkins, Griggs, and Du Bois imagine transnational forms of belonging that shatter the national frame and refuse citizenship as the horizon of politics. “Blushing Bitterly” shows that racial uplift philosophy, and the affect management it demands, often fails in practice. The authors in this study encourage expressing unmanaged feeling. The novel’s formal characteristics allow freer forms of feeling than permitted by uplift philosophy. Their novels make room for negative feelings and model how to make way for individual agency in feeling. Theorizing these writers emphasizes the import of affect in African American literature and revises the genealogy of contemporary affect studies. While scholars attribute the “affective turn” in critical theory and literary studies to the early 2000s, “Blushing Bitterly” contends that African American writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century had already made this turn by engaging in vital affective work.
Subject (authority = local)
Topic
African American literature
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Literatures in English
Subject (authority = LCSH)
Topic
African American authors -- 20th century
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Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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1 online resource (vi, 316 pages)
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Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references
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NamePart
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963 -- Dark princess -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject
Name (authority = LCNAF)
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Chesnutt, Charles W. (Charles Waddell), 1858-1932 -- The marrow of tradition -- Criticism and interpretation
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Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 1872-1906 -- The sport of the gods -- Criticism and interpretation
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Hopkins, Pauline E. (Pauline Elizabeth). -- Of one blood -- Criticism and interpretation
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School of Graduate Studies Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore10001600001
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doi:10.7282/t3-5r9t-cb23
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ETD doctoral
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The author owns the copyright to this work.
RightsHolder (type = personal)
Name
FamilyName
Everett
GivenName
Gabrielle
MiddleName
Kunti Marie
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Copyright Holder
RightsEvent
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Permission or license
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2019-04-09 15:36:34
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Gabrielle Everett
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Rutgers University. School of Graduate Studies
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Author Agreement License
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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2019-05-31
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2021-05-30
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Access to this PDF has been restricted at the author's request. It will be publicly available after May 30th, 2021.
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