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Conference papers

Making Blackness Meaningful, or When William Melvin Kelley’s Characters Become Self-Conscious

Abstract : As he or she turns the pages of the works by African American writer William Melvin Kelley, the reader is struck by the evolutions his characters (black or white) undergo throughout the narratives. These evolutions are not those of characters that are not aware of their skin colors in a context that is defined to make them realize it; but that of people who grow to understand the consequences the color of their skins have for themselves and for those around them. As a matter of fact, Kelley’s writings are inscribed in the 1960s, period of social and political changes in the lives of African Americans. These transformations are naturally transcribed within the author’s opuses. He thus tries to persuade his characters to go from a life of submission to a life fully lived, i.e. without pretense or assimilation. For this is the fact Kelley endeavors to pass on to his reader, the final person he wants to convince into a life without boundary due to the color of their skins. Indeed, one must keep in mind that Kelley writes as an author of the Black Arts Movement, and that consequently his purpose is to primarily address Black people. In so specific a context his mission is a prominent one: he has to make blackness meaningful again; not for a white audience, but for the black one that has to be confident again as for their own worth. In that sense, Kelley transposes the lives of his fellow African Americans within his works; which, hence, makes them pregnant with a multitude of black identities.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01343763
Contributor : Yannick Blec Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, July 9, 2016 - 6:00:54 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, January 15, 2022 - 4:02:42 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, October 10, 2016 - 10:57:53 AM

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Yannick Blec. Making Blackness Meaningful, or When William Melvin Kelley’s Characters Become Self-Conscious. Black States of Desire: Dispossession, Circulation, Transformation, Collegium of African American Research, Apr 2011, Paris, France. ⟨hal-01343763⟩

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