The American Optic: Psychoanalysis, Critical Race Theory, and Richard Wright

The American Optic: Psychoanalysis, Critical Race Theory, and Richard Wright

by Mikko Tuhkanen


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Brings together critical race theory and psychoanalysis to examine African American and other diasporic African cultural texts.

The American Optic charts new territory in the relationship of psychoanalysis to critical race studies. Focusing on the work of Richard Wright and Jacques Lacan, it explore the political and ethical implications of psychoanalysis for African American and other diasporic African cultural texts. Mikko Tuhkanen develops a theory of “racialization” that recasts the genealogy of the Western concept of racial difference as outlined by critical race theory, through the theory of the real, which Lacan developed in his later work. By engaging a wide array of resources—including the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Frantz Fanon, as well as nineteenth-century slave narratives and studies of blackface minstrelsy—Tuhkanen not only illuminates the unexpectedly rich connections between Lacanian psychoanalysis and black literary and cultural studies, but also demonstrates the ways in which the artistic and political traditions of the African diaspora allow us to reinvent the Lacanian ethics of becoming.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438427645
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 07/02/2010
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture Series
Pages: 255
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mikko Tuhkanen is Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at Texas A&M University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction "Richard Jacques Jacques Richard" xi

Chapter 1 A [B]igger's Place: The "Racial" Subject in the White Symbolic Order 1

Chapter 2 The Grimace of the Real: Of Paranoid Knowledge and Black(face) Magic 29

Chapter 3 Unforeseeable Tragedies: Symbolic Change in Wright, Fanon, and Lacan 67

Chapter 4 The Optical Trade: Through Southern Spectacles 107

Chapter 5 Avian Alienation: Writing and Flying in Wright and Lacan 133

Notes 169

Bibliography 193

Index 223

What People are Saying About This

Abdul R. JanMohamed

The American Optic makes a very significant contribution to the discussion about the intersection of psychoanalysis and race. The author stages a provocative and illuminating dialogue between various psychoanalytic theories (primarily those of Lacan) and various African-American literary and cultural texts (particularly the novels of Richard Wright). (Abdul R. JanMohamed, author of The Death-Bound-Subject: Richard Wright's Archaeology of Death)

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