In the Life and in the Spirit

Homoerotic Spirituality in African American Literature

By Marlon Rachquel Moore

Subjects: Literary Criticism, African American Studies, Lesbian / Gay Studies, Queer Studies
Paperback : 9781438454085, 225 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438454078, 225 pages, December 2014

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Table of contents

1. Toward a Genealogy of Black Queer Spirituality
Part I. Gay Christianity
2. Gay Christian Narrative: Langston Hughes’s “Blessed Assurance”
3. Sacred Sensuality: Just Above My Head
Part II. Philosophes of the Spirit
4. Soul Talk and Sermonic Seduction: The Color Purple; Say Jesus and Come to Me
5. Neo-Spirit Narrative: “In the Life”
Part III. Nontheist Cosmologies
6. Humanist Zealotry: Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents
7. Reciprocity as Spiritual Ethos: The Gilda Stories
Closing Thoughts and Suggestions for Further Reading

Examines a range of fiction that challenges widespread assumptions about what it means to be a black person of faith.


Taking up the perceived tensions between the LGBTQ community and religious African Americans, Marlon Rachquel Moore examines how strategies of antihomophobic resistance dovetail into broader literary and cultural concerns. In the Life and in the Spirit shows how creative writers integrate expressions of faith or the supernatural with sensuality, desire, and pleasure in a way that highlights a spectrum of black sexualities and gender expressions. Through these fusions, African American writers enact queer spiritualities that situate the well-known work of James Baldwin into a broader community of artists, including Bruce Nugent, Ann Allen Shockley, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, Jewelle Gomez, Becky Birtha, an d Octavia Butler. In these texts from 1963 to 1999, Moore identifies a pervasive, affirming stance toward LGBTQ people and culture in African American literary production.

Marlon Rachquel Moore is Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.