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Speaking in Tongues and Dancing DiasporaBlack Women Writing and Performing$
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Mae G. Henderson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195116595

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195116595.001.0001

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The Stories of (O)Dessa

The Stories of (O)Dessa

Chapter:
(p.97) 5 The Stories of (O)Dessa
Source:
Speaking in Tongues and Dancing Diaspora
Author(s):

Mae G. Henderson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195116595.003.0006

Opening with a prologue on Collen Stan’s narrative of sexual bondage, a cautionary tale reflecting slavery’s social and discursive legacy, this chapter introduces Sherley Anne Williams’s Dessa Rose. As an intertextual novel, Dessa Rose addresses the issues of authorship and representation in Pauline Réage’s Story of O and William Styron’s Confessions of Nat Turner. Rewriting the representation of women and blacks at the scene of writing captivity when the condition of black and/or female subjectivity is repression or subordination, Dessa Rose problematizes Styron’s performance of (black) masculinity and Réage’s performance of (white) femininity by transposing elements of servitude into a narrative of eroticism and elements of the erotic into a narrative of slavery. Deconstructing these novels, Williams opens up a space for the black female, marginalized in Styron’s text and subsumed under the category of (white) woman in Réage’s text. In the epilogue, Henderson challenges readerly subjection to textual mastery.

Keywords:   Mae G. Henderson, Pauline Réage, Collen Stan, William Styron, Story of O [Histoire d’O], Confessions of Nat Turner, slavery and desire, eroticization of dominance, scene of writing, authorship, intertextuality, textual mastery, readerly subjection

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