Countee Cullen Revisited

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  • Title: Countee Cullen Revisited: Investigating the Impact of the Veil and Double Consciousness on Cullen’s Identity Dilemma and Its Posthumous Repercussions
  • Author(s): Hessa Almuhatrish, Muneerah Almahasheer
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Literary Humanities
  • Keywords: W. E. B. Du Bois, Double Consciousness, Countee Cullen, African Americans, The Veil, Identity Dilemma, Black Lives Matter, New Black Voices
  • Volume: 23
  • Issue: 1
  • Date: July 05, 2024
  • ISSN: 2327-7912 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-8676 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2327-7912/CGP/v23i01/43-59
  • Citation: Almuhatrish, Hessa, and Muneerah Almahasheer. 2024. "Countee Cullen Revisited: Investigating the Impact of the Veil and Double Consciousness on Cullen’s Identity Dilemma and Its Posthumous Repercussions." The International Journal of Literary Humanities 23 (1): 43-59. doi:10.18848/2327-7912/CGP/v23i01/43-59.
  • Extent: 17 pages

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Abstract

This study investigates the impact of the veil and double consciousness and its impact on the de/formation of identity in the poetry of Countee Cullen (1903–1946), one of the most influential young poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Like Tiresias, Cullen throbs between two lives, a Negro and an American, never to be reconciled. W. E. B. Du Bois’s discussion of the veil and double consciousness is the theoretical framework. A psychoanalytic approach leads to the answer to the question of identity dilemma, which is based on Cullen’s self-de/rejection and his unconscious feelings of inferiority complex. To overcome this complex, Cullen sought to embrace different types of identities: literary, interracial, and homosexual. The analysis of the selected poems proves that Cullen suffers from an identity dilemma due to self-de/rejection resulting from racial depreciation, the repercussions of which echo in the Black Lives Matter Movement in current America and new Black voices. The article suggests further studies on the strong possibility of Cullen’s being homosexual, a new facet of Cullen’s identity dilemma, and on the impact of Cullen’s identity dilemma on contemporary African American poets.