Countering White Ideals of Beauty in Claude McKay’s “Banana Bottom”

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In many ways, I cannot help but think about Charles Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand, F.M.C. and Frank Yerby’s Speak Now when reading Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom. Specifically, I think about the experiment that the Craigs conduct on Bita Plant in relation to Pierre Beaurepas’ unexplained “experiment” on Paul Marchand in Chesnutt’s novel. This is something important to consider, but it is not what I want to write about today. Instead, I want to focus on the ways that we can read McKay’s novel in relation to Yerby’s. Each novel firmly challenges preconceived notions of beauty centered on white aesthetics.

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Internalized Ideas of Beauty in Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s “Perfect in Parts”

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Recently, I had the chance to read Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s new collection of short stories, The Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born (UL Press 2018). One story that immediately caught my attention was “Perfect in Parts,” a piece that, like Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom and Frank Yerby’s Speak Now, calls upon us to reconsider our internalized ideas of beauty based on whiteness. Today, I want to take some time to show how “Perfect in Parts” deconstructs ideas of internalized beauty and shows that these idealized forms of beauty are nothing more a construction.

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Lecture for “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

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A few weeks ago, I posted about my introductory lecture for the American literature course I am teaching at the University of Bergen, and over the past few posts I have been discussing various aspects of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Today, I want to share with you my lecture for Twain’s novel, walking you through my thought process and why I chose to organize it the way I did. Since I only have 90 minutes per lecture, I cannot discuss every aspect of the novel that I would like, so I had to make some decisions regarding what I wanted students to take away from the lecture.

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