Invisible men: Reading African American masculinity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In her 1990 article ‘Fear of the Happy Ending: The Color Purple, Reading and Racism’, Alison Light critically reflected on the experience of teaching a text authored by an African American woman in the context of a course on ‘women’s writing’ and in a pedagogic situation in which students and tutors were all white. Light recorded that ‘as tutors we were surprised that the discussion did not lead into the issue of racism, and at the ways in which it did not’;1 the ‘fact’ of Walker’s and her protagonists ‘blackness’, did not in itself guarantee that ‘race’, as a contested issue, would be addressed. This chapter will reflect on the racial and gendered construction of African American masculinity in the context of the teaching of African American writing as a literary tradition: that is, it will explore the teaching of masculinity as a gendered identity in a context where the contesting of racial constructions of identity is fore-grounded. It will explore what might be termed the curricula construction of racial and gendered identity as represented in, and as produced by, counter canons of literature. The premise of this discussion is that it is not simply the racial or gendered identities of tutors or students that produce the ways in which a text is understood; the curricula and pedagogic contexts within which the text is placed have the potential to make possible certain readings and to preclude others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMasculinities in Text and Teaching
EditorsBen Knights
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780230592629
ISBN (Print)9780230003415, 978-1-349-28109-1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2007


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