Bricolage Propriety: The Queer Practice of Black Uplift, 1890-1905


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project situates post-Reconstruction black American culture in the genealogy of queer American studies. Rather than using queer theory as a way to understand black uplift, Bricolage Propriety allows late-nineteenth-century black culture to inform queer theory, which is typically centered on white gay male culture. Focused on archival documents and novels by Charles W. Chesnutt, Pauline E. Hopkins, Sutton Griggs, Thomas Nelson Page, William Hannibal Thomas, and Thomas Dixon, Jr., this project illuminates inventions of and challenges to black sexual propriety in late-nineteenth-century culture. Moreover, it argues that this archive not only calls into question the purity and novelty of queer antinormativity in the present, but further illustrates the constitutive relationship between performances of blackness and American theories of sexual propriety throughout US history.