“A Lynching in Blackface”: The Representation of History and Fantasies of Black Male Violence in John E. Wideman’s The Lynchers

Carmen Dexl

Abstract


John Edgar Wideman’s novel The Lynchers (1973) dramatizes African American plans to lynch a white policeman and thus promote the constitution of a black nation. Drawing on Linda Hutcheon’s intertextual conception of parody as elaborated in A Theory of Parody (1985), this article examines the inversion of the lynching narrative at the core of The Lynchers as a “repetition with a critical difference” (32). It argues that the novel’s adoption of parody serves three major functions: First, it exposes the specific workings of lynching. Second, it debunks central ingredients of the lynching mythology and third, it expresses a critical position towards the premises and implications of gendered black nationalism. 

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