Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Robert Reid-Pharr

Committee Members

Kandice Chuh

Sarah Schulman

Barbara Webb

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Literature | American Studies | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Literature in English, North America | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Performance Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Theatre and Performance Studies


critical race studies, queer studies, American studies, literary studies, American literature, African American literature, postwar American literature


This dissertation examines literary works by U.S. writers Lillian Smith, Carson McCullers, James Baldwin, and Lorraine Hansberry written in the early part of the postwar period referred to as the “Protest Era” (1944-1970). Analyzing a major work by each author—Strange Fruit (1944), The Member of the Wedding (1946), Giovanni’s Room (1956), and Les Blancs (1970)—this project proposes that Smith, McCullers, Baldwin, and Hansberry were not only early theorists of intersectionality but also witnesses to the deeply problematic entanglements of subjectivities formed by differential privilege, which the author calls intersubjectivity or love. Through frameworks of queerness, racialization, performance/performativity, tragedy, and (de)coloniality, this work explores the liberatory and revolutionary possibilities unearthed by such a conceptualization of love.