Raising the Dead

Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivity

Raising the Dead

New Americanists

More about this series

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 2 b&w photographs Published: March 2000

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies

Raising the Dead is a groundbreaking, interdisciplinary exploration of death’s relation to subjectivity in twentieth-century American literature and culture. Sharon Patricia Holland contends that black subjectivity in particular is connected intimately to death. For Holland, travelling through “the space of death” gives us, as cultural readers, a nuanced and appropriate metaphor for understanding what is at stake when bodies, discourses, and communities collide.
Holland argues that the presence of blacks, Native Americans, women, queers, and other “minorities” in society is, like death, “almost unspeakable.” She gives voice to—or raises—the dead through her examination of works such as the movie Menace II Society, Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead, Randall Kenan’s A Visitation of Spirits, and the work of the all-white, male, feminist hip-hop band Consolidated. In challenging established methods of literary investigation by putting often-disparate voices in dialogue with each other, Holland forges connections among African-American literature and culture, queer and feminist theory.
Raising the Dead will be of interest to students and scholars of American culture, African-American literature, literary theory, gender studies, queer theory, and cultural studies.


“[A] bold intervention in American cultural and literary studies . . . . [I]t is certain that this impressive and engaging book opens many doors and points the way for other cultural studies work in the liminal spaces along the life-death continuum of the Americas.” — Wendy Walters, Novel

“[A] vigorous and innovative book . . . .” — Gregory Woods, Feminist Theory

"[D]elightful . . . . Sharon Holland’s satisfying first work persuades me yet again of the reverberating wisdom of a familiar black folk saying: As a free black man in postmodern America, all that I have to do anymore is stay black and die.’ . . . More ruefully, if Raising the Dead has made one thing incontestably clear, it is the reasonable certainty that staying black and dying may be one and the same experience." — Maurice Wallace, Callaloo

Raising the Dead is a tour de force filled with provocative, original, and imaginative observations and insights. Sharon Holland draws on a dazzling range of influences and interprets an impressive array of diverse cultural forms as she asks and answers crucial questions about ancestry, origins, and heritage in African American and Native American life and culture.” — George Lipsitz, University of California, San Diego

“A thorough, challenging, and compelling investigation of the themes of subjectivity, death, and their interrelation in twentieth-century American literature and culture.” — Emory Elliott, University of California, Riverside

“A work of theoretical power and brilliant interpretive prowess.” — Wahneema Lubiano, Duke University


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sharon Patricia Holland is Assistant Professor of English at Stanford University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknoweldgments ix

Introduction: Raising the Dead 1

1 Death and the Nations Subjects 13

2 Bakulu Discourse: Bodies Made "Flesh" in Toni Morrison's Beloved 41

3 Telling the Story of Genocide in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead 68

4 (Pro)Creating Imaginative Spaces and Other Queer Acts 103

5 "From this Moment Forth, We Are Black Lesbians": Querying Feminism and Killing the Self in Consolidated's Business of Punishment 124

6 Critical Conversations at the Boundary between Life and Death 149

Epilogue 175

Notes 183

Selected Bibliography 209

Index 227
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, Lora Romero First Book Prize, American Studies Association

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2499-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2475-1
Publicity material