Setting his house in order: the crisis of paternity in James Baldwin's Giovanni's room

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dc.contributor Purvis, Jennifer
dc.contributor Bilwakesh, Nikhil
dc.contributor.advisor Harris, Trudier
dc.contributor.author Wiggins, Meredith Joan
dc.date.accessioned 2017-03-01T16:26:43Z
dc.date.available 2017-03-01T16:26:43Z
dc.date.issued 2012
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0000925
dc.identifier.other Wiggins_alatus_0004M_11086
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.ua.edu/handle/123456789/1418
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract In this thesis, I argue that James Baldwin's critically neglected second novel, Giovanni's Room (1956), constitutes a necessary and proper addition to the literature that is recognized more widely as part of the author's personal canon. Perhaps the biggest area of scholarly research on Baldwin's writings is his mapping of paternity, yet critics consistently fail to realize the many ways in which Giovanni's Room contributes to this scholarly discussion. I argue that Baldwin consciously embeds a homoerotic subtext in the character of David's father, suggesting that the character is by no means as purely and uncomplicatedly straight as critics have read him heretofore, and that Giovanni's Room, while necessarily a product of its generally homophobic social moment, serves as a sustained critique of the ideological system that queer theorist Lee Edelman calls reproductive futurism. In this system, parenthood becomes the true marker of an individual's subjectivity and worth, and the figure of The Child (different from actual, individual children) becomes the ultimate symbol of societal value; I suggest that the mental, physical, and emotional crises of the novel's main and supporting characters are caused by their failure to fully participate in this system, which shapes the values of the world in which they live. I further suggest that the many autobiographical resonances present in the novel indicate that Baldwin might have looked on Giovanni's Room as a chance to continue working out in writing his complicated relationship with his late stepfather, David Baldwin, Sr. I contend that throughout the text, Baldwin employs literary strategies designed to call attention to the pronounced role that paternity plays in the novel, suggesting that in at least one key way, Giovanni's Room fits squarely within the traditions that shape Baldwin's canonical work.
dc.format.extent 69 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other African American studies
dc.subject.other GLBT studies
dc.title Setting his house in order: the crisis of paternity in James Baldwin's Giovanni's room
dc.type thesis
dc.type text
etdms.degree.department University of Alabama. Dept. of English
etdms.degree.discipline English
etdms.degree.grantor The University of Alabama
etdms.degree.level master's
etdms.degree.name M.A.


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