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PhallaciesHistorical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity$
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Kathleen M. Brian and James W. Trent, Jr.

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190458997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190458997.001.0001

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Porgy and Dubose

Porgy and Dubose

Chapter:
(p.301) 14 Porgy and Dubose
Source:
Phallacies
Author(s):

Susan Schweik

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190458997.003.0015

This chapter explores Dubose Heyward’s route toward the creation of his famous character Porgy, in his novel of the same name and in his work with the Gershwins in its musical stage adaptation, “Porgy and Bess.” By recasting his own experiences into those of Porgy’s—writing disability in blackface—offered Heyward created a safe space for exploring the social dynamics of crippling abjection precisely because it also provided a compelling way to affirm disabled masculinity. By focusing on Heyward’s earlier, unpublished writing, this chapter argues that later adaptations abandoned the structures of mutual vulnerability and mutual anomaly between the disabled man and the marred woman that undergirded both Heyward’s early writing and the Porgy novel. The chapter’s conclusion returns to Porgy and Bess to examine its great lyric, arguing that in it lie embedded traces of Heyward’s writing on the social consequences of disablement.

Keywords:   George Gershwin, Dubose Heyward, masculinity, disability, blackface, vulnerability, anomaly

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