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Convulsed in desperate living : ghetto criminality and the economy of survival in the Harlem narratives of Chester Himes, Claude Brown and Louise Meriwether

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Convulsed in desperate living : ghetto criminality and the economy of survival in the Harlem narratives of Chester Himes, Claude Brown and Louise Meriwether

Godin, Julie (1998) Convulsed in desperate living : ghetto criminality and the economy of survival in the Harlem narratives of Chester Himes, Claude Brown and Louise Meriwether. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the radicalism of African-American leaders such as Malcolm X, George Jackson and Eldridge Cleaver found expression in polemical writings that targeted, in their critique of established white power structures, the American judicial and penal system. Drawing their rhetorical power from the authors' direct experience of ghetto criminality, and from their encounters with the machinery of "criminal justice," the protest writings of outspoken activists and prisoners have shaped critical perceptions of African-American narrative discourse of this period. While critics have expected to find, in African-American novels of the 1960s and 1970s, a deep current of radicalism, and a clear commitment to identifiable models of resistance, the Harlem narratives of Chester Himes, Claude Brown and Louise Meriwether temper such assumptions by engaging in representations of the ghetto and the criminalized subject that do not posit an empowering movement from "desperate living" to political astuteness and radical action. Instead, Himes's Blind Man With a Pistol (1969), Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land (1965) and Meriwether's Daddy Was a Number Runner (1970) complicate an understanding of African-American critiques of racial politics by participating in a discourse that refuses to perform the gestures of enlightened protest. These texts point to the conditions of survival in a space governed by the predatory economy of widespread criminality--conditions that deny the relevance of a rhetoric of resistance and compel ghetto-dwellers to resign themselves to a numbing, unalterable state of affairs.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Godin, Julie
Pagination:vi, 99 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Dept. of English
Date:1998
Thesis Supervisor(s):Nixon, Nicola
ID Code:750
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:14
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:16
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