Lust in the City: Desire and Indifference in Raven Leilani’s "Luster"

Aktiviteetti: Puhe tai esitysKonferenssiesitelmä


Speaker in the panel "Feminist Textualities in the Urban Novel," chaired by Dr. Geetha Ramanathan and Dr. Stacey Schlau.

Lust in the City: Desire and Indifference in Raven Leilani’s "Luster"

Understood as a subgenre of the city novel, the feminist city novel discusses urban literature from a point of view that prioritizes the female perspective and problematizes the city as a neutral setting. Paying attention to language and form is the norm in literary criticism, yet it is also important to recognize the various forms of power that fictional worlds manifest. Andrew Thacker has argued that to “think geographically about literary and cultural texts means to understand them in material locations, locations that can and should be examined historically and with an awareness of how diverse spaces can reflect, produce or resist forms of power” (2017). Indeed, the literary city created by a female author and presented to us through a female protagonist can both reflect the complex world of gender as well as resist the powers that produce it.

Raven Leilani’s Luster (2020) breaks the image of the city that has long considered the urban dweller male by casting as its protagonist a 23-year-old black woman, Edie, whose non-normative desires the novel follows. Kaitlyn Greenidge has aptly argued that Luster is, above all, “a novel about what it means to be a black-female flaneur” (2020). In my paper, I explore the brutal desire and indifference with which Edie approaches and experiences New York City and argue that the significance of Leilani’s novel lies in its power to resist norms and let loose the all-but-invisible flâneuse.
Aikajakso17 kesäk. 2022
Tapahtuman otsikkoAmerican Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) 2022 Meeting
Tapahtuman tyyppiKonferenssi
SijaintiTaipei, Taiwan, Province of ChinaNäytä kartalla
Tunnustuksen arvoKansainvälinen