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Changeling Genres and the Glamour of the Human: Victor LaValle’s "The Changeling"

Verena Adamik, Mariya Nikolova, Nicole Waller

Pages 153 - 169



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

Employing a notion of “glamour,” Victor LaValle’s "The Changeling" pushes readers to re-adjust their vision of how the world is made. In the novel, glamour operates as an “illusion” that serves to “obscure[ ] the suffering of the weak” (247; 384). This essay traces glamour’s obscuring force by putting LaValle’s work in conversation with Mark Jerng’s analysis of literary genre as a mode of “racial worldmaking” that centrally employs but obscures the construction of race (2), and with Sylvia Wynter’s analysis of Western modernity’s racialized conception of the human as a “genre” or representational mode whose very construction is made opaque (318). Engaging both the idea of literary genre and the “genres of being human” (Wynter 318), we read the novel as a critique of strategies that occlude the racial and gendered organization of the world and the suffering this causes. The story unsettles readerly expectations and their grounding within generic racial worldmaking and interrogates the glamour of the human, addressing the question of ontology. The novel first reveals how Blackness is rendered monstrous and then subverts this framing to show the monstrosity of anti-Blackness. Racial and gendered worldmaking destabilized, the protagonist can transgress the order of the human to engage in an ethics of care with the other-than-human.

Key Words: genre; anti-Blackness; racial worldmaking; fantasy; race

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