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In the critical essays collected in Black Looks, bell hooks interrogates old narratives and argues for alternative ways to look at blackness, black subjectivity, and whiteness. Her focus is on spectatorship—in particular, the way blackness and black people are experienced in literature, music, television, and especially film—and her aim is to create a radical intervention into the way we talk about race and representation. As she describes: "the essays in Black Looks are meant to challenge and unsettle, to disrupt and subvert." As students, scholars, activists, intellectuals, and any other readers who have engaged with the book since its original release in 1992 can attest, that's exactly what these pieces do.
In the critical essays collected in Black Looks, bell hooks interrogates old narratives and argues for alternative ways to look at blackness, black subjectivity, and whiteness. Her focus is on spectatorship—in particular, the way blackness and black people are experienced in literature, music, television, and especially film—and her aim is to create a radical intervention into the way we talk about race and representation. As she describes: "the essays in Black Looks are meant to challenge and unsettle, to disrupt and subvert." As students, scholars, activists, intellectuals, and any other readers who have engaged with the book since its original release in 1992 can attest, that's exactly what these pieces do.
Originally published: Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1992.
Examines the effect of a racially divided society on ninteenth century American writings, and discusses works by Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain
The "color line" defined American society in the twentieth century. What about the new millennium?
The act of eating is both erotic and violent, as one wholly consumes the object being eaten. At the same time, eating performs a kind of vulnerability to the world, revealing a fundamental interdependence between the eater and that which exists outside her body. Racial Indigestion explores the links between food, visual and literary culture in the nineteenth-century United States to reveal how eating produces political subjects by justifying the social discourses that create bodily meaning. Combing through a visually stunning and rare archive of children’s literature, architectural history, domestic manuals, dietetic tracts, novels and advertising, Racial Indigestion tells the story of the consolidation of nationalist mythologies of whiteness via the erotic politics of consumption. Less a history of commodities than a history of eating itself, the book seeks to understand how eating became a political act, linked to appetite, vice, virtue, race and class inequality and, finally, the queer pleasures and pitfalls of a burgeoning commodity culture. In so doing, Racial Indigestion sheds light on contemporary “foodie” culture’s vexed relationship to nativism, nationalism and race privilege.
In The Black Body in Ecstasy, Jennifer C. Nash rewrites black feminism's theory of representation. Her analysis moves beyond black feminism's preoccupation with injury and recovery to consider how racial fictions can create a space of agency and even pleasure for black female subjects. Nash's innovative readings of hardcore pornographic films from the 1970s and 1980s develop a new method of analyzing racialized pornography that focuses on black women's pleasures in blackness: delights in toying with and subverting blackness, moments of racialized excitement, deliberate enactments of hyperbolic blackness, and humorous performances of blackness that poke fun at the fantastical project of race. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, and media studies, Nash creates a new black feminist interpretative practice, one attentive to the messy contradictions—between delight and discomfort, between desire and degradation—at the heart of black pleasures.

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