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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The White Man's Magic Word: Southern Knowledge and White Racial Melancholy

  • Author(s): Gilmore, John Garrett Bridger
  • Advisor(s): Keizer, Arlene
  • et al.
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“The White Man’s Magic Word: Southern Knowledge and White Racial Melancholy” re-evaluates the uses to which the memory of slavery is put in white-authored modernist literature. In chapters on Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I develop a literary history of white liberal racial attitudes that continue to define the racial discourse of the present. Through these readings, I develop a theory of white racial melancholy: a condition of personally painful and politically paralyzing attachment to intellectual concepts the white subject feels to be corrupted by white supremacy, but without which they cannot imagine either politics or literature.

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This item is under embargo until June 5, 2023.