What I Am Thinking About Now: Beverly Haviland, “The Color of Shame: The Perversity of White Supremacy and Child Sexual Abuse in ‘The Bluest Eye’”

Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA)

Please join us for a “What I Am Thinking About Now” presentation by Beverly Haviland, Senior Lecturer in American Studies and Visiting Associate Professor of American Studies at Brown University, titled “The Color of Shame: The Perversity of White Supremacy and Child Sexual Abuse in The Bluest Eye.”

Abstract: In Toni Morrison’s first novel, there are three perpetrators of the sexual abuse of a child: Cholly Breedlove, Mr. Henry, and Soaphead Church. Professor Haviland argues that there are different kinds of guilt and shame that should be considered in this novel. Lacan’s clinical analysis of perversion helps to show how the disavowal of the Law of the Father structures Soaphead’s pursuit of jouissance, of “getting off” on his violations of social norms by sexually abusing girls. Soaphead’s belief that he has the right to outrage and violate his victims is informed by his belief that his white heritage puts him above the Law. This theory of perversity is useful in understanding the persistence of white supremacy through a psychoanalytic framework that takes account of the difficulty of changing irrational beliefs that are sustained by sexual drives.

Please register to attend.

“What I Am Thinking About Now” is an on-going informal workshop/seminar series to which faculty and graduate students are invited to present and discuss recently published work and work in progress. All are invited to attend and participate.