A Spectacular Secret
Lynching in American Life and Literature
To pursue this argument, Goldsby traces lynching's history by taking up select mob murders and studying them together with key literary works. She focuses on three prominent authors—Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Stephen Crane, and James Weldon Johnson—and shows how their own encounters with lynching influenced their analyses of it. She also examines a recently assembled archive of evidence—lynching photographs—to show how photography structured the nation's perception of lynching violence before World War I. Finally, Goldsby considers the way lynching persisted into the twentieth century, discussing the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955 and the ballad-elegies of Gwendolyn Brooks to which his murder gave rise.
An empathic and perceptive work, A Spectacular Secret will make an important contribution to the study of American history and literature.
1. A Sign of the Times: Lynching and Its Cultural Logic
2. Writing "Dynamitically": Ida B. Wells
3. "The Drift of the Public Mind": Stephen Crane
4. Lynching's Mass Appeal and the "Terrible Real": James Weldon Johnson
5. Through a Different Lens: Lynching Photography at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century
6. In the Mind's Eye