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Title page for ETD etd-06302009-104447

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ross, Donika DeShawn
URN etd-06302009-104447
Title Framing the subject in Natasha Trethewey's Bellocq’s Ophelia
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Professor Michael Kreylin Committee Chair
Professor Kathryn Schwarz Committee Member
  • Trethewey
  • poetry
  • southern literature
  • subjectivity
Date of Defense 2009-05-28
Availability unrestricted
In the early 1900s Ernest J. Bellocq photographed anonymous, mostly mixed-race prostitutes in the legalized vice district of Storyville in New Orleans. In Bellocq’s Ophelia, Natasha Trethewey creates a narrative that seeks to privilege both the material objects—Ernest Bellocq’s Storyville photographs—and one of his historically anonymous subjects, whom Trethewey names Ophelia. Trethewey begins her recuperation of the silent, anonymous prostitute by exercising her power as author to name the subject, and in naming her, Trethewey situates her within a prestigious, but literary history. In this paper, I suggest that Trethewey’s interrogation of the art object, either as subject and/or object, reveals that complex negotiations between morality and subjectivity are necessary endeavors in unpacking the history and role of representational in the shaping of how black bodies, specifically southern black bodies are read.
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