The Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism Within Us Slave Culture

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New York University Press
Publish Date
5.99 X 9.11 X 0.68 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Vincent Woodard (Author) Vincent Woodard (1971-2008) was Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He received his PhD in English from the University of Texas, Austin in 2002. Dwight McBride (Editor) Dwight A. McBride is President of The New School in New York City. Prior to his appointment at The New School, Dr. McBride was Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Emory University, where he also held the position of Asa Griggs Candler Professor of African American Studies, Distinguished Affiliated Professor of English, and Associated Faculty in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. A leading scholar of race and literary studies, Dr. McBride's books include James Baldwin Now, Impossible Witnesses: Truth Abolitionism, and Slave Testimony, Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual African American Fiction, and A Melvin Dixon Critical Reader. His book Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch: Essays on Race and Sexuality won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Studies and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Justin A. Joyce (Editor) Justin A. Joyce is Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University. He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is coeditor of A Melvin Dixon Critical Reader. E. Patrick Johnson (Foreword by) E. Patrick Johnson is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American & Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of two award-winning books, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (2003) and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South--An Oral History (2008). Most recently, he is also the author of Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women (2019), and Black. Queer. Southern. Women--An Oral History (2019).


"We have all read about the hunger of slaves whose masters sought to starve them into submission. ButThe Delectable Negroasks of these slaves: 'How does it feel to be an edible, consumed object?' Inverting the trope of slave hunger, VincentWoodardprovocatively suggests that the slaveholder is a parasite who feeds off the slaves body in acts that range from cannibalistic to sexual modes of consumption, especially the homoerotic. In an even greater provocation, however, Woodard argues that within the black community, hunger is transformed into a regenerative space from which the search for home and communal belonging may be initiated. A bold and brilliant book."--Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City
"The Delectable Negrouncovers a compelling set of themes in the scholarship on U.S. slave culture: white cannibalism as a significant trope for white depletion of, and desire for, the laboring and eroticized black male body. In a stunning series of arguments, Woodard forces us to reconsider the historical out-of-hand rejection of black African fear (and, not rarely, claims) of white cannibalism, showing how remarkably wide-reaching was the sense that slavery satisfied some sadomasochistic instinct among the slave-owning class."--Maurice O. Wallace, author of Constructing the Black Masculine
"The Delectable Negro is a brilliant, fearless, and deeply political book."--Early American Literature
"With unflinching clarity, The Delectable Negroexposes and examines the pervasive cultural fantasies that have rendered the enslaved black body into a consumable object from the eighteenth century to the present. [] [I]ts powerful insights will continue to generate new lines of important inquiry for years to come."--American Historical Review
"It should be noted here that Woodard died before this book was published; it is a shame that he could not see his daring work enter debate. Praise must go to Joyce and McBride, moreover, for their careful and attentive editorial work that made this publication of this text possible. . . . Woodard's career would surely have been even bolder after this book, but this text's interruption into critical theory alone is itself worth celebrating."--American Studies