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Queering the Black Atlantic in Caryl Philips' Crossing the River and Jackie Kay's Trumpet.

Byrne, E (2016) Queering the Black Atlantic in Caryl Philips' Crossing the River and Jackie Kay's Trumpet. Cycnos, 32 (1). ISSN 0992-1893

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Abstract

This article is divided into two sections as it attempts to think about the ways in which it is possible to theorise, engage with or make visible the queer Black Atlantic in Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River, juxtaposing this reading with an engagement with Jackie Kay’s novel Trumpet (1998), to ask what associations or relations might be drawn between an acknowledged queer black Atlantic text and one not usually read as such. Firstly, it considers the influence of James Baldwin’s writing and friendship in informing and inflecting Phillips’s own investigation of slavery, of black diasporic identity, African-American identity and black male sexuality. It then explores developments of the concept of a black queer Atlantic in critical theory, asking how a subversive queer potentiality is depicted as at the heart of slavery and plantation culture, as it intersects with spectacles of black suffering and desire for the black body, exploring how this critical work intersects with and informs contemporary writing and activism around race and sexuality. It asks how Phillips and others address or mobilise queer interventions into dominant ways of thinking the diaspora and raced interventions in queer thinking of the subject and desire, to question how they impact on the memorializing of and living in, the legacy of slavery in the present.

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