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Not Even PastRace, Historical Trauma, and Subjectivity in Faulkner, Larsen, and Van Vechten$
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Dorothy Stringer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231478

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823231478.001.0001

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/ “A Having Way”: Fetishism and the Black Bourgeoisie in Passing

/ “A Having Way”: Fetishism and the Black Bourgeoisie in Passing

(p.88) 4 / “A Having Way”: Fetishism and the Black Bourgeoisie in Passing
Not Even Past

Dorothy Stringer

Fordham University Press

Trauma studies often identify traumatic writing with modernist formal experimentation, particularly estranging, unsympathetic, anti-traditionalist gestures. Familiar axioms of trauma studies are not only theoretical concepts, but also technical and ethical precepts. Many critiques of trauma theory and the field of trauma studies have remarked its strange, impervious critical optimism, and some suggest therefore that a trauma study has reached the limit of its usefulness. Early black novelists often depended heavily on mass mediated, normatively white bourgeois class markers and moral imperatives, even when illustrating communitarian and culturalist theses. Passing themes can coexist with conventional plots. Sardonic refers etymologically to a Sardinian plant supposed to produce convulsive laughter ending in death, and sardony is hence allied with traumatic repetition. Yet sardony is emphatically not irony, not an element of tragedy. Fetishes have always mediated the relationships among black people, white profit, and spiritual values.

Keywords:   trauma studies, fetishism, sardony, black novelists, gestures, repetition, black people

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