Next Article in Journal
Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery,’ and William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity
Previous Article in Journal
“Have You Ever Seen the Crowd Goin’ Apeshit?”: Disrupting Representations of Animalistic Black Femininity in the French Imaginary
Open AccessArticle

The Averted Gaze: Audre Lorde’s Zami and the Death of Emmett Till

Department of English, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059, USA
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030136
Received: 29 June 2019 / Revised: 24 July 2019 / Accepted: 2 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
This essay considers Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982) as an example of the neoliberal turn to memoir that both complicates and exemplifies important aspects of the relationship between literary form and ideological expressions of racial and sexual identity. By examining a hitherto un-noted omission from Lorde’s memoir, the death of Emmett Till, this essay illuminates the political significance behind Lorde’s choice to narrate Till’s death in the form of a poem while conspicuously omitting it from her prose memoir. Incorporating a broader selection of Lorde’s work, and comparative analysis with other poetic responses to Till’s death, this essay shows through this example how the intense personalization of an historical event can formalize the embodiment of an essentialized, and thus timeless, racial identity. As such, Lorde’s work demonstrates how literary form can both communicate and obscure paradoxical aspects of contemporary racial ideology by rationalizing the embodiment of racial difference in the post-Civil Rights world. View Full-Text
Keywords: Audre Lorde; Emmett Till; African American literature; African American poetry; memoir; autobiography; feminism; sexuality; race; identity Audre Lorde; Emmett Till; African American literature; African American poetry; memoir; autobiography; feminism; sexuality; race; identity
MDPI and ACS Style

Watson, R. The Averted Gaze: Audre Lorde’s Zami and the Death of Emmett Till. Humanities 2019, 8, 136.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop