Labor PainsNew Deal Fictions of Race, Work, and Sex in the South

Labor PainsNew Deal Fictions of Race, Work, and Sex in the South

Christin Marie Taylor

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9781496821775

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Labor Pains: New Deal Fictions of Race, Work and Sex in the South is about southern modernist fictions centered on the imagined lives of black folk workers from the 1930s to the 1960s. This period encompasses the clashes surrounding New Deal-era policy reforms and their legacies as well as a surge in Popular Front artistic expressions from the Depression, to World War II, to the Civil Rights era and following. Labor Pains sets out to show that black working-class representations of the Popular Front have not only been about the stakes of race and labor but also call upon an imagined black folk to do other work. The book considers tropes of black folk workers across genres of southern literature to demonstrate the reach of black radicalism and how the black folk worker was used to engage the representative feelings we think we know and the affective feelings that remained unsaid. Labor Pains emphasizes feeling, namely the sensual and the sexual, imbued in narratives by George Wylie Henderson, William Attaway, Eudora Welty, and Sarah Elizabeth Wright. Each employs tropes of black folk workers to get a fuller picture of gender and desire during this time. As a result, a glimpse into feminist and gender-aware aspects of the outgrowths of black radicalism come into view.