Black Venus: Sexualized Savages, Primal Fears, and Primitive Narratives in French

Black Venus: Sexualized Savages, Primal Fears, and Primitive Narratives in French

By: T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting (author)Hardback

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Black Venus is a feminist study of the representations of black women in the literary, cultural, and scientific imagination of nineteenth-century France. Employing psychoanalysis, feminist film theory, and the critical race theory articulated in the works of Frantz Fanon and Toni Morrison, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting argues that black women historically invoked both desire and primal fear in French men. By inspiring repulsion, attraction, and anxiety, they gave rise in the nineteenth-century French male imagination to the primitive narrative of Black Venus. The book opens with an exploration of scientific discourse on black females, using Sarah Bartmann, the so-called Hottentot Venus, and natural scientist Georges Cuvier as points of departure. To further show how the image of a savage was projected onto the bodies of black women, Sharpley-Whiting moves into popular culture with an analysis of an 1814 vaudeville caricature of Bartmann, then shifts onto the terrain of canonical French literature and colonial cinema, exploring the representation of black women by Baudelaire, Balzac, Zola, Maupassant, and Loti. After venturing into twentieth-century film with an analysis of Josephine Baker's popular Princesse Tam Tam, the study concludes with a discussion of how black Francophone women writers and activists countered stereotypical representations of black female bodies during this period. A first-time translation of the vaudeville show The Hottentot Venus, or Hatred of Frenchwomen supplements this critique of the French male gaze of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both intellectually rigorous and culturally intriguing, this study will appeal to students and scholars in the fields of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, feminist and gender studies, black studies, and cultural studies.

About Author

T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting is Associate Professor of French, Film Studies, Comparative Literature, and African American Studies at Purdue University. She is the author of Frantz Fanon: Conflicts and Feminisms and coeditor of Spoils of War: Women of Color, Cultures, and Revolutions and Fanon: A Critical Reader.


List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction: Theorizing Black Venus 1 Writing Sex, Writing DIfference: Creating the Master Text on the Hottentot Venus 16 Representing Sarah- Same Difference or No Difference at All? La Venus hottentote, ou haine au Francaises 32 "The Other Woman": Reading a Body of Difference in Balzac's La Fille aux Yeux d'or 42 Black Blood, White Masks, and Negresse Sexuality in de Pon's Ourika, l'Africaine 52 Black Is the Difference: Identity, Colonialism, and Fetishism in La Belle Dorothee 62 Desirous and Dangerous Imaginations:: The Black Female Body and the Courtesan in Zola's Therese Raquin 71 Can a White Man Love a Black Woman? Perversions of Love beyond the Plae in Maupassant's "Boitelle" 86 Bamboulas, Bacchanals, and Dark Veils over Whtie Memories in Loti's Le Roman d'un spahi 91 Cinematic Venus in the Africanist Orient 105 Epilogue 119 Appendix: The Hottentot Venus, or Hatred of Frenchwomen 127 Notes 165 Works Cited 177 Index 185

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780822323075
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 208
  • ID: 9780822323075
  • ISBN10: 0822323079

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