Class Notes (806,627)
Canada (492,361)
ENGL 324 (22)

Crime Fiction 16

5 Pages
Unlock Document

McGill University
English (Arts)
ENGL 324
Thomas Heise

March 3 - Gunnar Myrhal, An American Dilemma (1944) - Kenneth Clark, Dark Ghetto (1965) - Chester Himes, Blind Man (1969) - Oscar Lewis, A Study of Slum Culture (1968) - US Dept of Labor, The Negro Family, aka The Moynihan Report (1965) - Himes wrote social protest novels about 1940's LA - what do we make of the fact that we have an African American novelist who seems to trade in black stereotypes - Harlem is violent, oversexed, drug-riddled, etc according to him - the stereotype of black people as prone to violence, sexual behavior etc. - consider Himes' work as relating to federal government discourse and studies - how does it fit in to "the discourse?" - this term is thrown around, but it means 'the body of utterance on a subject' - how does literature play into/play off of the other discourse on the subject (particularly these studies) - if you filed lit under discourse under authors names, then you'd think of Moby Dick as a discourse about whaling - this is a blacksploitation type novel - how does the other literature zero in on the black family as the cause (not just the symptom) as the cause for the decline of the inner city (sexual delinquency, prostitution, drug use, crime rates) - it looks at the reason why social ills are caused by black families - these stereotypes are floating in the culture and Himes takes them and inflates them - he's like "oh, that's what you think it is? you have no idea, it's a hundred times worse. do you see how ridiculous you are with your ideas?" > the scale at which he portrays them makes it clear just how silly they are - critique comes from the form rather than from the character himself - coffin head and grave digger are sadistic and homophobic... there really isn't anywhere for you to look and sympathize. - if you don't sympathize with the characters, then you won't listen to their opinions and so you have to do it through form - this starts in Harlem with two police officers wondering why the sign has changed - this is the class of people below the working class (and it's not just black, but the black one is the social concern at this time period) - this black inner city is a result of the war and the developments due to this (black people moving up from the south) - they're trying to get away from the racism of the south - slaves are freed after the civil war in 1863, but there's still racial issues until the 1960's (and then it's not legal anymore) - even being allowed to vote didn't mean that you could (they made it hard for you) - before the 1960's, it was nearly impossible - in the second half of the 20th century, now you have racially homogenous neighborhoods - there were some before, but now there are many - Myrdal comes in and does a study to try and understand the American race problem (and he's European) - he offered up the classic misdiagnosis, seeing the culture of the inner city as a pitiful response to racism and urban anonymity - he thought that discrimination had produced non-normative behaviors in the African American population (crime rates, premarital sex, impulsiveness, etc) - he implied that it was almost endemic (ingrained in their DNA) - maybe these behaviors had their root in slavery and stereotype, but now they're natural for black people - poverty as a cultural phenomenon (culture of poverty gets quoted a lot) - the fact that black people are poor could be a result of their culture - why hasn't Haiti progressed when the Dominican Republic has? voodoo, culture again - Lewis argues that it's culture - one story is about the interracial homosexual homicide - what does Himes do with these riots? - he's cynical, bitter and funny - different protests (black power, interracial) > but they're cynical, self-interested etc - he doesn't seem to have much good to say about people - Clark’s book came out a year after the Harlem riots, saying that Harlem is the fountainhead of negro protest movements and the home of the criminally psychotic - the people who live there are characterized by illegal activity - Moynihan report was a study of segregation and the impacts of slavery and unequal access to things - concluded that a "tangle of pathology" grew out of the weakness of the fami
More Less

Related notes for ENGL 324

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.