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A New Spelling of Her Name: Audre Lorde's Queer Black Marxism

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Abstract:

Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982) records how the black lesbian author re-imagined the notion of belonging by establishing underground bonds with comrade outcasts, and a critical component of Lorde’s “biomythography” is her leftist commitment. The dangerous consequence of her political engagement was state persecution. As a result of working to free the Rosenbergs, Lorde suffered persistent red baiting and chronic FBI harassment. Eventually, the threat of McCarthyism drove the Barbadian American author to flee the United States for Mexico, where she found exiled former Lincoln Brigade volunteers and victims of the Hollywood blacklist. Among these refugees Lorde discovered fugitive leftist lesbian fellow travelers, like herself seeking a safe house where they might regenerate their commitment. As Communism was deemed to be necessarily a form of degeneracy, coupled ideologically with sexual subversion, a crucial element of the HUAC witch-hunts was the necessity for persecuting sex renegades. Cut loose from the United States, Lorde and her companions therefore were also able to pursue private desires with less fear of intervention.

Lorde’s act of scripting a new spelling of her name necessitated a radical engagement with nationalism, capitalism, and imperialism, including the hegemonic effects of such forces, among the most ruthless being the policing of sexual difference. To combat such repressive apparatuses, Lorde formed a dynamic compound militancy, a pioneering political identity. Lorde’s radical commitment is most completely understood as a mode of queer black Marxism.

A discussion of Lorde’s queer black Marxist writing promises to open new doors onto the “sister outsider” author, one that recognizes the full complement of her revolutionary writing. Through the rhetorics of queer black Marxism, a text may be identified as communicating a critique of oppressive nationalist discourses, exposing the mutually informing connections between homophobia and sexism, racism and imperialism. In view of the present American Studies concentration on belonging, a new reading of Lorde’s self-inscription may stimulate fresh ways of approaching the genealogies of other queer Marxist cultural workers.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p315479_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Holcomb, Gary. "A New Spelling of Her Name: Audre Lorde's Queer Black Marxism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C., <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p315479_index.html>

APA Citation:

Holcomb, G. "A New Spelling of Her Name: Audre Lorde's Queer Black Marxism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C. <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p315479_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982) records how the black lesbian author re-imagined the notion of belonging by establishing underground bonds with comrade outcasts, and a critical component of Lorde’s “biomythography” is her leftist commitment. The dangerous consequence of her political engagement was state persecution. As a result of working to free the Rosenbergs, Lorde suffered persistent red baiting and chronic FBI harassment. Eventually, the threat of McCarthyism drove the Barbadian American author to flee the United States for Mexico, where she found exiled former Lincoln Brigade volunteers and victims of the Hollywood blacklist. Among these refugees Lorde discovered fugitive leftist lesbian fellow travelers, like herself seeking a safe house where they might regenerate their commitment. As Communism was deemed to be necessarily a form of degeneracy, coupled ideologically with sexual subversion, a crucial element of the HUAC witch-hunts was the necessity for persecuting sex renegades. Cut loose from the United States, Lorde and her companions therefore were also able to pursue private desires with less fear of intervention.

Lorde’s act of scripting a new spelling of her name necessitated a radical engagement with nationalism, capitalism, and imperialism, including the hegemonic effects of such forces, among the most ruthless being the policing of sexual difference. To combat such repressive apparatuses, Lorde formed a dynamic compound militancy, a pioneering political identity. Lorde’s radical commitment is most completely understood as a mode of queer black Marxism.

A discussion of Lorde’s queer black Marxist writing promises to open new doors onto the “sister outsider” author, one that recognizes the full complement of her revolutionary writing. Through the rhetorics of queer black Marxism, a text may be identified as communicating a critique of oppressive nationalist discourses, exposing the mutually informing connections between homophobia and sexism, racism and imperialism. In view of the present American Studies concentration on belonging, a new reading of Lorde’s self-inscription may stimulate fresh ways of approaching the genealogies of other queer Marxist cultural workers.


Similar Titles:
Navigating the Queer Hood: Young Black Queer Women and Health Management in Philadelphia

Audre Lorde is Still Right: Theorizing Poetry of Black Education, Research, and Activism

Queer Black Marxism: A New Critical Reading for Interwar Period African American Studies


 
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