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Faulkner and FormalismReturns of the Text$
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Annette Trefzer and Ann J. Abadie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617032561

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617032561.001.0001

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The Impenetrable Lightness of Being: Miscegenation Imagery and the Anxiety of Whiteness in Go Down, Moses

The Impenetrable Lightness of Being: Miscegenation Imagery and the Anxiety of Whiteness in Go Down, Moses

Chapter:
(p.129) The Impenetrable Lightness of Being: Miscegenation Imagery and the Anxiety of Whiteness in Go Down, Moses
Source:
Faulkner and Formalism
Author(s):

Ted Atkinson

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617032561.003.0008

This chapter examines the visual economies and the racial and social encodings of the bodies in William Faulkner’s novel Go Down, Moses. It considers Faulkner’s explicit references to the stereopticon, a nineteenth-century optical device that provides depth perception for viewing an image. The chapter argues that the stereopticon, also known as the “magic lantern,” functions figuratively in Go Down, Moses as an image for viewing a person or the novel. Drawing on critical race studies and theories of whiteness, it explores the subtleties of the concept of miscegenation and the anxieties that surround it, and suggests that the stereopticon destabilizes racial difference. In addition, the chapters explains how Faulkner anchors the stereopticon as an image of doubleness in the actual physical and human geographies as well as the subtle social and racial encodings of his time and place.

Keywords:   stereopticon, William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses, depth perception, race, whiteness, miscegenation, magic lantern, geographies

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