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Dialogic Convergences of Spatiality, Racial Identity, and the American Cultural Imagination

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abstract
This project seeks to analyze the various consequences of the relationship between racial identity and spatialization in American cultural production. I assert that this relationship is uniquely dialogic, complexly impacting individuals as well as collective cultural groups, reciprocally affecting both social and physical spaces. Additionally, I address how and why this mutually constitutive connection impacts the processes which construct those spaces. Using foundational concepts of racial formation theory, spatial theory, and close-reading analytical techniques, I track some of the effects and consequences of this relationship as illuminated by each of this project’s main texts. Firstly, Nella Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance-era novel Passing exemplifies how overtly racist policies manifest spatially and, by blurring the line between racial categories, reveals the arbitrary nature of the constructed boundaries which delineate racialized spaces. This gives rise to the conclusion that, although race and space are undeniably significant, they are each, paradoxically, inventions. Secondly, my analysis of Toni Morrison’s Paradise focuses on the underlying narratives which are meant to create and sustain a space comprised of a unified national people. In doing so, the novel emphasizes the nature of existence for those marginalized, or forgotten in the name of the dominant narrative. Finally, this project’s final chapter offers observations of race and space from a popular culture perspective; namely, this chapter analyzes the visual imagery and lyrics in two music videos - “APES**T” by The Carters and “This is America” by Childish Gambino. This analysis provides a take on how racial and spatial issues have manifested in social and cultural spaces, and how contemporary, popular culture has, in turn, influenced these spaces. Overall, this project aims to survey the consequences of the dialogue between race and space and its impact on American society and culture.
subject
African American literature
Hip hop
Racial formation
Spatial theory
contributor
Humphrey, Alexandra (author)
Franco, Dean J (committee chair)
Greiman, Jennifer (committee member)
Bowie, Rian (committee member)
date
2019-05-24T08:35:31Z (accessioned)
2019-05-24T08:35:31Z (available)
2019 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/93914 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Dialogic Convergences of Spatiality, Racial Identity, and the American Cultural Imagination
type
Thesis

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