Return to search

Designing Cities & Men: Post-WWII Urban Renewal, Black Masculinity, and African American Aesthetics

This dissertation examines the relationship between post-WWII urban renewal programs in the United States and aesthetic representations of black masculinity in 20th century African American literature. I argue that urban renewal-related processes such as evictions, slum clearance and redlining influenced the tropes and metaphors African American male writers and artists used to represent the existential dilemmas of dispossession African American men encountered in revitalized cities. I focus on New York City, Chicago, and Pittsburgh as three exemplary cities whose dismantled black belts offered black writers and artists generative material to think about the place of African American men in discussions about spatial autonomy, the relationship between individual and community, the process of identity formation, and, importantly, the potentially crippling lapse between African American menâs pursuit of idealized notions of American masculinity and the reality of their lived experiences as spatially dispossessed. Using a combination of historical contextualization, literary close reading, and visual analysis, I examine the works of figures such as Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Frank Marshall Davis, Romare Bearden, Gordon Parks, and Charles âTeenieâ Harris. Through this type of analytic approach, I bring attention to the racialized, gendered and sexualized linguistic and visual languages black male artists used to describe the renewed post-WWII American city, notably its complicity as an architecture that is highly suspicious of black menâs presence.

Identiferoai:union.ndltd.org:VANDERBILT/oai:VANDERBILTETD:etd-07212016-095854
Date24 July 2016
CreatorsMensah, Lucy Kwabah
ContributorsVera Kutziski, Mark Wollaeger, Hortense Spillers, Leonard Folgarait
PublisherVANDERBILT
Source SetsVanderbilt University Theses
LanguageEnglish
Detected LanguageEnglish
Typetext
Formatapplication/pdf
Sourcehttp://etd.library.vanderbilt.edu/available/etd-07212016-095854/
Rightsrestricted, I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to Vanderbilt University or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report.

Page generated in 0.0022 seconds