Shades of Gray: Writing the New American Multiracialism

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2018-11-13 05:41Z by Steven

Shades of Gray: Writing the New American Multiracialism

University of Nebraska Press
December 2018
348 pages, index
Hardcover: 978-0-8032-9681-7

Molly Littlewood McKibbin, Assistant Professor of Instruction
English and Creative Writing Department
Columbia College Chicago

Shades of Gray

In Shades of Gray Molly Littlewood McKibbin offers a social and literary history of multiracialism in the twentieth-century United States. She examines the African American and white racial binary in contemporary multiracial literature to reveal the tensions and struggles of multiracialism in American life through individual consciousness, social perceptions, societal expectations, and subjective struggles with multiracial identity.

McKibbin weaves a rich sociohistorical tapestry around the critically acclaimed works of Danzy Senna, Caucasia (1998); Rebecca Walker, Black White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self (2001); Emily Raboteau, The Professor’s Daughter (2005); Rachel M. Harper, Brass Ankle Blues (2006); and Heidi Durrow, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (2010). Taking into account the social history of racial classification and the literary history of depicting mixed race, she argues that these writers are producing new representations of multiracial identity.

Shades of Gray examines the current opportunity to define racial identity after the civil rights, black power, and multiracial movements of the late twentieth century changed the sociopolitical climate of the United States and helped revolutionize the racial consciousness of the nation. McKibbin makes the case that twenty-first-century literature is able to represent multiracial identities for the first time in ways that do not adhere to the dichotomous conceptions of race that have, until now, determined how racial identities could be expressed in the United States.

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Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2018-11-13 04:56Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
June 2019
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-13 03:54Z by Steven

Mike Reed’s Flesh & Bone

BIMHUIS
2018-02-03


©Adrienne-Thomas

Influential bandleader from Chicago presents an evocative mix of music, spoken word and video. ‘With its historical depth and vigorous performance, the music satisfies on its own terms’ (Downbeat).

Mike Reed’s compositions for Flesh & Bone are both deeply personal and brimming with hope, and represent his expressions of feeling about social unrest, racism and resurgent nationalism. On the eponymous album, the Chicago-based musician recollects harrowing memories of a confrontation with far-right protesters on a train journey with his band through Eastern Europe. For this project, this same four-piece band has been expanded to include a cornet player and a bass clarinet player. Poet and performer Marvin Tate plays an important role on the album as well as on stage, where dramatic tales come together with music and moving images.

As a drummer, composer and founder of the Constellation club and the influential Pitchfork Music Festival, Mike Reed is a key figure in the Chicago music scene, where he engages in regular collaborations with a variety of young musicians as well as with veterans such as Roscoe Mitchell and Wadada Leo Smith. His relationship with Amsterdam is particularly special, owing to his Indonesian-Dutch ancestry. In 2013, his band People, Places and Things released the album Second Cities: Volume 1, with pieces by Dutch composers such as Guus Janssen, Sean Bergin and Eric Boeren.

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Racial Passing and Its Transatlantic Contexts

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Passing, United States, Women on 2018-11-12 23:30Z by Steven

Racial Passing and Its Transatlantic Contexts

5 University Gardens
Room 101
University of Glasgow
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Tuesday, 2018-11-20, 17:15Z

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature
York St John University York, United Kingdom

JBradbury170802-Staff-Profile.jpg

The Transatlantic Literary Women are excited to be welcoming Dr. Janine Bradbury to Glasgow to give a paper titled: “Racial Passing and Its Transatlantic Contexts”. The talk takes place in room 101, 5 University Gardens at 5.15pm on Tuesday 20th November with drinks and refreshments available from 5. This is a social, friendly gathering. As always, everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an entire literary genre emerged in the United States that revolved around light skinned, mixed race African Americans who ‘fraudulently’ pretended to be or passed for white in order to ‘evade’ racism, prejudice, and segregation. Films like Imitation of Life brought the topic to a national audience and writers as diverse as William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and Langston Hughes featured passing in their works.

Given that the United States has a distinct history of race relations, how do stories about passing ‘work’ beyond these regional and national contexts? And do American stories about passing inspire and hold relevance for writers across the black Atlantic? How is gender and nationhood represented in these works? And what role do women writers play in the history of the passing genre?

This talk explores the phenomenon of ‘passing-for-white’ as represented in the work of transatlantic literary women ranging from Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen to contemporary British writer Helen Oyeyemi and asks why passing continues to inspire women writers across the West.

For more information, click here.

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Deconstructing the Truism of Race as a Social Construct

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Videos on 2018-11-12 22:22Z by Steven

Deconstructing the Truism of Race as a Social Construct

Hammer Museum
University of California, Los Angeles
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90024
2018-11-03

Naomi Zack, Professor of Philosophy
University of Oregon

Rebecca Tuvel, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee

Diarmuid Costello, Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Warwick

Philosophers Naomi Zack of the University of Oregon, Rebecca Tuvel of Rhodes College, and Diarmuid Costello of the University of Warwick discuss the ways in which Adrian Piper’s art interrogates racial identity, focusing on specific works as well as Piper’s own writings about race, “Passing for White, Passing for Black” and Escape to Berlin: A Travel Memoir.


Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features, 1981
Pencil on paper. 10 × 8 in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm). The Eileen Harris Norton Collection © Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin.

View the discussion (03:04:11) here.

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Narratives of Passing

Posted in Articles, Course Offerings, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-11-06 21:50Z by Steven

Narratives of Passing

Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York
2015-?

Amitava Kumar, Professor of English

(Same as AFRS 253) Topic for 2019b: Narratives of Passing. The phrase “passing for white,” peculiar to American English, first appears in advertisements for the return of runaway slaves. Abolitionist fiction later adopts the phenomenon of racial passing (together with the figure of the “white slave”) as a major literary theme. African American writers such as William Wells Brown and William Craft incorporated stories of passing in their antislavery writing and the theme continued to enjoy great currency in African American literature in the postbellum era as well as during the Harlem Renaissance. In this class, we examine the prevalence of this theme in African American literature of these periods, the possible reasons for the waning interest in this theme following the Harlem Renaissance, and its reemergence in recent years. In order to begin to understand the role of passing in the American imagination, we look to examples of passing and the treatment of miscegenation in literature, film, and the law. We consider the qualities that characterize what Valerie Smith identifies as the “classic passing narrative” and determine how each of the texts we examine conforms to, reinvents, and/or writes against that classic narrative. Some of the themes considered include betrayal, secrecy, lying, masquerade, visibility/invisibility, and memory. We also examine how the literature of passing challenges or redefines notions of family, American mobility and success, and the convention of the “self-made man.”

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The Hate U Give’s Amandla Stenberg on bringing Black Lives Matter to the box office

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2018-11-01 01:44Z by Steven

The Hate U Give’s Amandla Stenberg on bringing Black Lives Matter to the box office

The Guardian
2018-10-19

Steve Rose

Amandla Stenberg in The Hate U Give

Stenberg is the star of a new adaptation of the YA novel phenomenon. The actor, and the film’s director, discuss cinema’s new generation of resistance

Any resemblance between The Hate U Give and your average teen movie evaporates about 20 minutes in, when 16-year-old Starr Carter, played by Amandla Stenberg, witnesses a police officer shoot dead her friend Khalil at point-blank range. By this stage, Starr’s father has already given her The Talk, the time-honoured ritual where African-American parents instruct their children how to behave if stopped by the police: be polite, stay calm, put your hands where they can see them. When their car is pulled over, Starr follows the drill. Khalil reaches for a hairbrush. The police officer thinks it’s a gun. That’s all it takes.

The Hate U Give is fictional, but barely. To see the stricken expression on Stenberg’s face during the shooting scene is to recall Diamond Reynolds, partner of Philando Castile, who livestreamed the aftermath of Castile’s 2016 police shooting from the passenger seat while he bled to death beside her. The victims’ names have almost become a mantra: Castile, Freddie Gray, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland – all young African Americans killed by law enforcement, each an avoidable tragedy.

“I learned really early on what it feels like to be black in an environment in which no one looks like you,” she says, “And I learned how to be very intentional of how I presented myself in order to fit in.” Code-switching – that capacity to alter your behaviour according to the company you’re in – is something that people of colour are especially familiar with, she continues. “Because you have the cognisance that if you are completely transparent about who you are in a space that doesn’t accept you for who you are, it’ll be detrimental to your ability to succeed. That’s just a fact of growing up in a country that is still based on white institutions,” she says. It can work both ways, Stenberg points out: her mother is African American and her father is Danish. “He was one of the only white people in our neighbourhood, so what I was experiencing at school, he was experiencing at home.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Passing and Double Consciousness in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-10-25 00:35Z by Steven

Racial Passing and Double Consciousness in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain

Philip Roth Studies
Volume 14, Number 1, 2018
pages 55-69
DOI: 10.5703/philrothstud.14.1.0055

Dyanne K. Martin, Assistant Professor of English
Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Floirida

Philip Roth’s nuanced understanding of the issues of race in pre- and post-Civil Rights America offers fresh thinking in a field that perhaps needs to explore new directions. The approach in this article is to use techniques of semiotics to assess the subtle cues in the linguist protagonist’s language as his statements move in and out of clarity, ambivalence, and doubleness. I argue that these forms of semiotic doubleness represent the dualities and ironies with which mixed-race people struggle in a society still divided by race.

Much has been said about Philip Roth’s use of racial passing as a trope in his novel The Human Stain. Critics such as Luminita Dragulescu and Jennifer Glaser argue that the novel represents the complexities of identity performance. Dragulescu, in particular, positions Roth’s use of racial passing as “a terrain of discursive power” (96). Glaser agrees with Dragulescu but adds that Roth’s mixed-race protagonist, Coleman Silk, portrays the traumatic complexities of the mulatto’s decision to traverse not just the color line but also the ethnic line. Passing as both white and Jewish, Silk illustrates what Glaser calls the “ongoing dynamics of racializcd power” in the discipline of critical race theory, a theory that is “inherently comparative” (1465). While these critics have engaged important issues in The Human Stain, they leave unaddressed Roth’s use of verbal or syntactic ambivalence in relation to the trope of racial passing in his novel. When Coleman Silk in a pivotal scene lashes out that he “don’t carry no nigger,” he seems, ostensibly, to be making a simple, straightforward statement (Stain 117). Yet Silks words are both…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Race Experts: Sculpture, Anthropology, and the American Public in Malvina Hoffman’s Races of Mankind

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2018-10-15 02:17Z by Steven

Race Experts: Sculpture, Anthropology, and the American Public in Malvina Hoffman’s Races of Mankind

University of Nebraska Press
August 2018
420 pages
86 illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0185-0
eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4962-0805-7
eBook (EPUB) ISBN: 978-1-4962-0803-3

Linda Kim, Associate Professor of American and Modern Art History
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Race Experts

In Race Experts Linda Kim examines the complicated and ambivalent role played by sculptor Malvina Hoffman in T​he Races of Mankind series created for the Chicago Field Museum in 1930. Although Hoffman had training in fine arts and was a protégé of Auguste Rodin and Ivan Meštrović, she had no background in anthropology or museum exhibits. She was nonetheless commissioned by the Field Museum to make a series of life-size sculptures for the museum’s new racial exhibition, which became the largest exhibit on race ever installed in a museum and one of the largest sculptural commissions ever undertaken by a single artist.

Hoffman’s Races of Mankind exhibit was realized as a series of 104 bronzes of racial types from around the world, a unique visual mediation between anthropological expertise and everyday ideas about race in interwar America. Kim explores how the artist brought scientific understandings of race and the everyday racial attitudes of museum visitors together in powerful and productive friction. The exhibition compelled the artist to incorporate not only the expertise of racial science and her own artistic training but also the popular ideas about race that ordinary Americans brought to the museum. Kim situates the Races of Mankind exhibit at the juncture of these different forms of racial expertise and examines how the sculptures represented the messy resolutions between them.

Race Experts is a compelling story of ideological contradiction and accommodation within the racial practices of American museums, artists, and audiences.

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Album review: ‘Picture in Black and White’

Posted in Autobiography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-10-08 03:16Z by Steven

Album review: ‘Picture in Black and White’

Rochester CITY Newspaper
Rochester, New York
2018-09-24

Ron Netsky

Concept albums are common in rock, but rare in the jazz realm. Tessa Souter’sPicture in Black and White“—set for release on October 5—breaks that mold. Souter, a Rochester favorite after multiple jazz festival appearances, has created an exquisite musical exploration of her identity. At the age 28, she discovered that her birth father was black and her roots reached from Africa to the Caribbean, from Celtic Britain to Andalusian Spain. Musical strains from all of these places permeate the album….

Read the entire review here.

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