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Grant number: FEL-257713-18

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Candice Marie Jenkins
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL 61801-3620)

Race, Class, and Bodily Vulnerability in Contemporary American Fiction of the 1980s to 2000s

Completion of a book-length study of class in representations of African American characters in contemporary fiction.

At a time in US history that offers repeated reminders of black susceptibility to state and extralegal violence, my project studies the narrative contradiction of privileged, presumably protected black bodies that remain racially vulnerable. I examine class-based disruption in literary texts just preceding our present moment, revealing how these overlooked texts from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s represent the black body as a challenge to the expected operation of privilege, and reminding us that the conflicted relation of the black subject to privilege is not a new phenomenon. The seemingly abrupt discursive shift from post-Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter, from a focus on privilege and progress to a focus on precarity, suggests a pendulum swing between two positions that remain in tension. In showing how these narratives stage the fraught overlap of the black and the bourgeois, my book offers renewed attention to class as epistemological framework for the study of black life.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American Studies; American Literature; Literary Criticism


Research Programs

Total amounts:
$33,600 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 8/31/2018