Character vs. Caricature: The Construction of Blackness in Carl Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven and Claude McKay's Home to Harlem

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Character vs. Caricature: The Construction of Blackness in Carl Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven and Claude McKay's Home to Harlem

Type: Master thesis
Title: Character vs. Caricature: The Construction of Blackness in Carl Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven and Claude McKay's Home to Harlem
Author: Moeijes, Annemarie
Issue Date: 2017-08-31
Keywords: blackness
whiteness
fanon
minstrelsy
Harlem Renaissance
van vechten
mckay
Abstract: This thesis applies Du Bois's and Fanon's theoretical concepts about the construction of black identity in a white-dominated and postcolonial context to Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven and McKay's Home to Harlem - two novels of the Harlem Renaissance which have garnered little scholarly attention to date. Thesis statement: "Both Van Vechten and McKay wrote from a context which invested the dominant white culture with more value than its black counterpart. Although Van Vechten was sympathetic to African Americans, his white patriarchal perspective bleeds through the cracks of his narrative and his novel’s characters fail to escape stereotype and allegory. McKay shows himself as aware of black stereotypes as Van Vechten is, but he sometimes challenges them explicitly. The trouble, however, is that McKay’s construct of blackness depends to a far greater degree on an adherence to the dominant white paradigm than the author himself seems aware of: he has internalized the white value system of his Other. Constructing the black Self on the stage of the white Other, as Frantz Fanon would say, proves perpetually problematic."
Supervisor: Kardux, J.C.
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: North American Studies (Master)
ECTS Credits: 20
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/51517
 

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