Black Queer Dandy- The Beauty without whom we cannot Live

by Monica L. Miller


Taking seriously (and for granted) the playful perversity of blackness, “Black, Queer, Dandy” examines the black dandy archive’s encounter with Oscar Wilde. Looking to his precursor, arch and witty eighteenth-century “dandy in black” Julius Soubise, and his heir, sardonic black British artist Yinka Shonibare, this essay suggests that Wilde’s caricature as a black(face) minstrel dandy on his visit to America in the 1880s was both a compliment and an insult. Wilde as black dandy, and/or the black dandy in association with Wilde, attempted to associate the aesthete with an apish blackness and black people with a perverse foreignness. In the figures of Soubise and Shonibare, these insults are turned into a fabulous, subversive queerness productive of both nurture and death.

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