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The Wallflower Avant-GardeModernism, Sexuality, and Queer Ekphrasis$
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Brian Glavey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190202651

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190202651.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 September 2021

Squandering Your Potential with Richard Bruce Nugent

Squandering Your Potential with Richard Bruce Nugent

(p.78) { 3 } Squandering Your Potential with Richard Bruce Nugent
The Wallflower Avant-Garde

Brian Glavey

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines early texts of Richard Bruce Nugent that share an experimental use of ellipses. Nugent developed the elliptical style in his description of his own drawing, “Sahdji.” The ekphrastic origin of this formal experiment helps illuminate his most significant work, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” which functions as a powerful examination of the hermeneutics of sexuality. This is a story that is celebrated as the first published work in the African-American tradition to deal openly with male same-sex desire, as a work that seems to have no use for the epistemology of the closet. At the same time, however, the multiple ellipses that interrupt every line of text invite readers to imagine that something has been repressed. By placing same-sex desire on the surface of the text while also highlighting things left unsaid, Nugent complicates the critical tendency to read homosexuality through forms of preterition.

Keywords:   Richard Bruce Nugent, ellipsis, potentiality, queerness, Sahdji, Smoke, Lilies and Jade

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