Black Women’s Work and Desire in George Wylie Henderson’s Ollie Miss
Ollie Miss brings together the labor politics of Alabama, reflecting George Wylie Henderson’s personal connections to the state. With this unique perspective, Henderson subtly intervenes in a labor crisis brought on by the Depression and the New Deal-era Agricultural Adjustment Act. What’s more, Henderson shifts from the focus on male workers that dominated the period, suggesting black women workers’ feeling as a central issue of his day. Setting the affect of a single migrant woman’s erotic stirrings in tension with agricultural toil, Henderson rethinks dominant labor narratives. Ollie’s real work —transcending confining labor circumstances by cultivating the pangs of erotic feeling —generates what we may call “cultivated desire.”
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