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White Double Consciousness and White Violence

“In a ‘hall of mirrors’: A Phenomenology of Heteronormative White Double Consciousness in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room”

—Luke Chwala, English Department

James Baldwin offers a social analysis of “queer whiteness” through a lens of double consciousness that is undoubtedly influenced by the African American sociologist and civil rights activist WEB Dubois. Utilizing Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic concept of the mirror stage of development, this essay shows how Baldwin uses mirror imagery as a literary device to force his novel’s protagonist, David, to confront the myth that is his heteronormative whiteness. Chwala proposes that the emotional attachment that David develops towards the character Giovanni forces him to see past his confined heteronormative white double consciousness, a consciousness that has taken advantage of an American white heteronormativity, while pretending that a queer consciousness did not exist.

“Physical and Mental Pain: White Violence in Marking Black Territory in Melba Pattillo Beal’s Warriors Don’t Cry”

—Kittiphong Praphan, English Department

This paper is a study of white violence in creating wounds and pain for black people, in order to mark their territory. In 1956, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was a symbol of white privilege, and when nine black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, tried to integrate in the school, there was massive resistance in the forms of violent mobs and other brutal reactions both inside and outside the school. This work also examines the survival strategies used by the Little Rock Nine in general, and the writing of memoir as a specific coping strategy.

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