The concern of the present study is to look at the relationship between white identity and the meaning of cultural blackness in the American South through the concept of shame. This essay investigates the notion of “otherness” in the South through the lens of American literature, thus offering a re-reading of the mechanics of shame and how it is inscribed in black and white identities. In the American South, in the relation between white superiority and black subordination, blacks are stigmatised as inferior due to their racial difference and their skin color, thus becoming objects of shame. The notion of shame is deeply inscribed in black bodies, which represent the social stigma of different discriminating identities. The social mechanisms that define the connection between blacks and whites, draw to the conclusion that black slaves are targeted as “shameful”, whereas white landlords are considered as “shameless”. This essay intends to explore this concept in order to prove how shame in Southern American literature is not a fixed trope, but rather it is a sentiment that respectively shifts from blackness to whiteness in a continuous physiological introspection of endangered identities. We will analyse William Faulkner’s Absalom Absalom (1936) and William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) in order to demonstrate how shame becomes a key literary device used to interpret the convoluted relationship between black and white in the American South.

Depictions of Shame: White Identity and Cultural Blackness in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Styron’s Confessions of Nat Turner

Beatrice Melodia Festa
2021

Abstract

The concern of the present study is to look at the relationship between white identity and the meaning of cultural blackness in the American South through the concept of shame. This essay investigates the notion of “otherness” in the South through the lens of American literature, thus offering a re-reading of the mechanics of shame and how it is inscribed in black and white identities. In the American South, in the relation between white superiority and black subordination, blacks are stigmatised as inferior due to their racial difference and their skin color, thus becoming objects of shame. The notion of shame is deeply inscribed in black bodies, which represent the social stigma of different discriminating identities. The social mechanisms that define the connection between blacks and whites, draw to the conclusion that black slaves are targeted as “shameful”, whereas white landlords are considered as “shameless”. This essay intends to explore this concept in order to prove how shame in Southern American literature is not a fixed trope, but rather it is a sentiment that respectively shifts from blackness to whiteness in a continuous physiological introspection of endangered identities. We will analyse William Faulkner’s Absalom Absalom (1936) and William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) in order to demonstrate how shame becomes a key literary device used to interpret the convoluted relationship between black and white in the American South.
Shame, American literature, blackness, whiteness, otherness.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Depictions of Shame_Melodia.pdf

accesso aperto

Descrizione: Articolo principale
Tipologia: Versione dell'editore
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 216.63 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
216.63 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1043937
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact