WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Dr. Andrew Leiter, assistant professor of English at Lycoming College, has published a book titled "In the Shadow of the Black Beast: African American Masculinity in Harlem and Southern Renaissances." Published by Louisiana State University Press, "Black Beast" marks the first book-length study of the sexually violent African-American man as a literary phenomenon. The "black beast" theme was a fundamental element of writers from both Harlem and Southern Renaissances who explored its psychological, cultural and social ramifications.
Leiter examines the black beast image, and then defines its presence in the novels of eight authors, from William Faulkner's "Light in August" to Richard Wright's "Native Son" to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind." The black beast theme in these writings shaped perceptions of black male sexual violence in segregation, protest traditions and literature that arose from those movements.
Leiter's book interprets the black beast literary stereotype within its social and historical context. It stresses that while Southern race relations shaped the Harlem and Southern Renaissances, the black beast image shaped the African-American individual and communal identities, and its threat of black masculinity threatened even perceptions of white femininity and masculinity.
Leiter earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Alabama, and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a 20th century American literature specialist with particular interest in the textual intersections of racial representations by white and African-American authors.