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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