Black Queer Studies A Critical Anthology

Black Queer Studies A Critical Anthology


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



it’s time for black studies to incorporate queer realities, and for gay studies to include black truths



Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology

Edited by E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson


Book Description 

While over the past decade a number of scholars have done significant work on questions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered identities, this volume is the first to collect this groundbreaking work and make black queer studies visible as a developing field of study in the United States. 

Bringing together essays by established and emergent scholars, this collection assesses the strengths and weaknesses of prior work on race and sexuality and highlights the theoretical and political issues at stake in the nascent field of black queer studies. Including work by scholars based in English, film studies, black studies, sociology, history, political science, legal studies, cultural studies, and performance studies, the volume showcases the broadly interdisciplinary nature of the black queer studies project.

Essayists consider the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies; representations of the black queer body; black queer literature; and the pedagogical implications of black queer studies. Whether exploring the closet as a racially-loaded metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of diaspora studies in black queer studies, considering how the black lesbian voice that was so expressive in the 1970s and 1980s is all but inaudible today, or investigating how the social sciences have concretized racial and sexual exclusionary practices, these insightful essays signal an important and necessary expansion of queer studies.

Contributors. Bryant K. Alexander, Devon Carbado, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Keith Clark, Cathy Cohen, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jewelle Gomez, Phillip Brian Harper, Mae G. Henderson, Sharon P. Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Dwight A. McBride, Charles I. Nero, Marlon B. Ross, Rinaldo Walcott, Maurice O. Wallace


Black Queer Studies makes a dynamic contribution to the shifting landscape of queer studies. This volume will surely transform our understandings of both black studies and queer studies, and it will create new idioms for the analysis and theorization of race and sexuality. Black Queer Studies is necessary and long overdue.—Judith Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity

This fine collection of essays demonstrates the importance of black queer quests and questions.—Jennifer DeVere Brody, author of Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity, and Victorian Culture

Years from now Black Queer Studies will be hailed as a manifesto for a discipline that demands a name, a voice and a home in academia. . . . Merginig the personal, political, and conjectural, these offerings pack street punch and ring with everyday relevance. . . . [T]his book is a milestone. —Tara Lake, Girlfriends

The core message of this pointed assessment of the American academy is that it’s time for black studies to incorporate queer realities, and for gay studies to include black truths. Most of the contributions are drawn from papers delivered at the Black Queer Studies in the Millennium conference several years ago, but the passage of time hasn’t blunted their premise: that the “nascent field” of black gay studies remains underdeveloped and underappreciated. The collection ranges widely across disciplines, including sociology, film studies, history, politics, and performance, in each instance claiming the right of black queer insights to be included in the intellectual dynamic of higher learning.

A couple of essays in particular focus on fiction. In one, anthology co-editor Henderson discusses the literary “whiteface” that made James Baldwin’s pioneering novel “Giovanni’s Room” palatable to a nongay, nonblack audience; in another, popular novelist Jewelle Gomez (“The Gilda Stories”) notes the dearth of black women authors in her lament “But Some of Us Are Lesbians: The Absence of Black Lesbian Fiction” – a state of affairs not much improved in the years since the essay was penned. —Richard Labonte Bookmarks 

About the Author

E. Patrick Johnson is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, also published by Duke University Press. Mae G. Henderson is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the editor of Borders, Boundaries, and Frames: Essays in Cultural Criticism and Cultural Studies and coeditor of the five-volume Antislavery Newspapers and Periodicals: An Annotated Index of Letters, 1817–1871.

Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology




Foreword: “Home” Is a Four-Letter Word SHARON P. HOLLAND 


Introduction: Queering Black Studies/ “Quaring” Queer Studies  E. PATRICK JOHNSON AND MAE G. HENDERSON 


I. Disciplinary Tensions: Black Studies/Queer Studies Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?  CATHY J. COHEN 


Race-ing Homonormativity: Citizenship, Sociology, and Gay Identity



Straight Black Studies: On African American Studies, James Baldwin and Black Queer  Studies DWIGHT A. MCBRIDE


Outside in Black Studies: Reading from a Queer Place in the Diaspora RINALDO WALCOTT


The Evidence of Felt Intuition: Minority Experience, Everyday Life, and Critical  Speculative Knowledge PHILIP BRIAN HARPER


“Quare” Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from  My Grandmother E. PATRICK JOHNSON


II. Representing the “Race”: Blackness, Queers, and the Politics of Visibility Beyond the Closet as Raceless Paradigm MARLON B. ROSS




“Joining the Lesbians” Cinematic Regimes of Black Lesbian Visibility KARA KEELING


Why Are Gay Ghettoes White? CHARLES I. NERO


III. How to Teach the Unspeakable: Race, Queer Studies, and Pedagogy Embracing the Teachable Moment: The Black Gay Body in the Classroom as  Embodied Text BRYANT KEITH ALEXANDER


Are We Fanily? Pedagogy and the Race for Queerness KEITH CLARK


On Being a Witness: Passion, Pedagogy, and the Legacy of James Baldwin MAURICE O. WALLACE


IV. Black Queer Fiction: Who Is “Reading” Us? But Some of Us Are Brave Lesbians: The Absence of Black Lesbian Fiction JEWELLE GOMEZ


James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room: Expatriation, “Racial Drag,” and Homosexual  Panic MAE G. HENDERSON


Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection: “Que(e)rying History”  FAEDRA CHATARD CARPENTER








Published by Duke University Press  


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posted 1 February 2006 




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