Faulkner, Race, and Reactionary Politics Open Access

Jamison Murphy (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/fj2362114?locale=en



This thesis analyzes William Faulkner’s Light in August (1932) and Absalom, Absalom (1936) in their relationship to racial discourses and reactionary politics. Treating “race” as a historically contingent technology of governance that is constructed for state management of populations, it situates Faulkner’s novels in the production of racial knowledge. Attention to the institutional production of race problematizes the novels’ relationship to late 19th and early 20th century American race science, and reactionary politics that turned these theories into political problematics. Examining reactionary readings of Faulkner’s novels challenges the accepted interpretation of the novels as fundamentally antifascist, and reveals previously unexamined institutional contexts in which the novels are situated.


Table of Contents


Introduction: Humanizing Faulkner           1

Chapter 1: Horizons of Extinction: Dysgenics and Degeneration in Absalom, Absalom!         9

Chapter 2: Raceless Outlaw, Black Criminal: Power and Racial Indeterminacy in Light in August       31

Conclusion: Irony and Fascism       49


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