Race and Authenticity: A Film Study on Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-10 17:27Z by Steven

Race and Authenticity: A Film Study on Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life

Drunk Monkeys
2020-05-18

Ilari Pass


Image © Universal Pictures

“It’s a sin to be ashamed of what you are.”
—Annie Johnson, Imitation of Life

Literature helps the reader travel inside the skin of the character—the mystery of another human being—and this understanding unsettles the reader’s received notion about the ‘other,’ a person who might be otherwise judged. The same can be applied to studying a film, allowing us to enhance our appreciation of subject matter that depicts a range of human experience by carefully looking at the artistic systems, such as cinematography, lighting, costume, and acting, that produce a rich and textured work of art. Douglas Sirk’s 1959 melodramatic film Imitation of Life, which depicts the lives of four different people living in a world that is beyond their control, is a film that operates at the level of art. The first half of the film deals with a question from a feminism perspective, about what it means to be a woman living in a male-dominated society, and the second half addresses the perspective of how women of color are affected by racism. It is a story about imitating, pretending to be something that isn’t true. However, what is true is what the characters literally see—gender and race—something no one can walk away from…

Read the entire article here.

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Understanding the Legacy of Nella Larsen’s Passing

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-10 16:24Z by Steven

Understanding the Legacy of Nella Larsen’s Passing

The Mary Sue
2021-02-04

Princess Weekes, Assistant Editor

Right now on the Sundance circuit is the Rebecca Hall-directed film Passing, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. It is an adaptation of the Harlem Renaissance classic Passing by Nella Larsen. Embedded into the text is a rich powerful narrative about the Black American experience and the lengths people go to survive in America.

Nella Larsen was both in 1890s Chicago as the daughter of a mixed-race Afro-Caribbean man and a white Danish immigrant woman. Larsen didn’t grow up with her father and in 1891 the Great Migration hasn’t happened yet, so the Black population was less than 2%. After her mother remarried, they moved to a mostly white neighborhood filled with German and Scandinavian immigrants. As a result, Larsen did not grow up in the usual world of Black Americanness. Or Blackness period…

…While it would be easy to dismiss Passing as a typical “tragical mulatto” story, I have always felt that it was more Larsen reflecting on the ultimate tragedy of those who have passed.

In A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs, the author explains that this is a narrative of loss. “I started to realize that writing this history of passing is really writing a history of loss,” Hobbs told NPR….

Read the article here.

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No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2021-01-21 15:53Z by Steven

No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner

University Press of Mississippi
November 2020
208 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496830708
Paperback ISBN: 9781496830692

Andre E. Johnson, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

A critical study of the career of the nineteenth-century bishop

No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner is a history of the career of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915), specifically focusing on his work from 1896 to 1915. Drawing on the copious amount of material from Turner’s speeches, editorial, and open and private letters, Andre E. Johnson tells a story of how Turner provided rhetorical leadership during a period in which America defaulted on many of the rights and privileges gained for African Americans during Reconstruction. Unlike many of his contemporaries during this period, Turner did not opt to proclaim an optimistic view of race relations. Instead, Johnson argues that Turner adopted a prophetic persona of a pessimistic prophet who not only spoke truth to power but, in so doing, also challenged and pushed African Americans to believe in themselves.

At this time in his life, Turner had no confidence in American institutions or that the American people would live up to the promises outlined in their sacred documents. While he argued that emigration was the only way for African Americans to retain their “personhood” status, he also would come to believe that African Americans would never emigrate to Africa. He argued that many African Americans were so oppressed and so stripped of agency because they were surrounded by continued negative assessments of their personhood that belief in emigration was not possible. Turner’s position limited his rhetorical options, but by adopting a pessimistic prophetic voice that bore witness to the atrocities African Americans faced, Turner found space for his oratory, which reflected itself within the lament tradition of prophecy.

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Race and Media: Critical Approaches

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2021-01-21 15:50Z by Steven

Race and Media: Critical Approaches

New York University Press
December 2020
320 pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
11 b/w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479895779
Paperback ISBN: 9781479889310

Edited by:

Lori Kido Lopez, Associate Professor in Media and Cultural Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

A foundational collection of essays that demonstrate how to study race and media

From graphic footage of migrant children in cages to #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite, portrayals and discussions of race dominate the media landscape. Race and Media adopts a wide range of methods to make sense of specific occurrences, from the corporate portrayal of mixed-race identity by 23andMe to the cosmopolitan fetishization of Marie Kondo. As a whole, this collection demonstrates that all forms of media—from the sitcoms we stream to the Twitter feeds we follow—confirm racism and reinforce its ideological frameworks, while simultaneously giving space for new modes of resistance and understanding.

In each chapter, a leading media scholar elucidates a set of foundational concepts in the study of race and media—such as the burden of representation, discourses of racialization, multiculturalism, hybridity, and the visuality of race. In doing so, they offer tools for media literacy that include rigorous analysis of texts, ideologies, institutions and structures, audiences and users, and technologies. The authors then apply these concepts to a wide range of media and the diverse communities that engage with them in order to uncover new theoretical frameworks and methodologies. From advertising and music to film festivals, video games, telenovelas, and social media, these essays engage and employ contemporary dialogues and struggles for social justice by racialized communities to push media forward.

Contributors include: Mary Beltrán, Meshell Sturgis, Ralina L. Joseph, Dolores Inés Casillas, Jennifer Lynn Stoever, Jason Kido Lopez, Peter X Feng, Jacqueline Land, Mari Castañeda, Jun Okada, Amy Villarejo, Aymar Jean Christian, Sarah Florini, Raven Maragh-Lloyd, Sulafa Zidani, Lia Wolock, Meredith D. Clark, Jillian M. Báez, Miranda J. Brady, Kishonna L. Gray, and Susan Noh.

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Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2020-12-14 03:52Z by Steven

Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America

Duke University Press
October 2020
328 pages
25 illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1115-6
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1010-4

Brigitte Fielder, Associate Professor, College of Letters & Science
University of Wisconsin, Madison

In Relative Races, Brigitte Fielder presents an alternative theory of how race is ascribed. Contrary to notions of genealogies by which race is transmitted from parents to children, the examples Fielder discusses from nineteenth-century literature, history, and popular culture show how race can follow other directions: Desdemona becomes less than fully white when she is smudged with Othello’s blackface, a white woman becomes Native American when she is adopted by a Seneca family, and a mixed-race baby casts doubt on the whiteness of his mother. Fielder shows that the genealogies of race are especially visible in the racialization of white women, whose whiteness often depends on their ability to reproduce white family and white supremacy. Using black feminist and queer theories, Fielder presents readings of personal narratives, novels, plays, stories, poems, and images to illustrate how interracial kinship follows non-heteronormative, non-biological, and non-patrilineal models of inheritance in nineteenth-century literary culture.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction. Genealogies of Interracial Kinship 1
  • Part I. Romance. Sexual Kinship
    • 1. Blackface Desdemona, or, the White Woman “Begrimed” 29
    • 2. “Almost Eliza”: Reading and Racialization 55
  • Part II. Reproduction. Genealogies of (Re)racialization
    • 3. Mothers and Mammies: Racial Maternity and Matriliny 85
    • 4. Kinfullness: Mama’s Baby, Racial Futures 119
  • Part III. Residency Domestic. Racial Relations
    • 5. Mary Jemison’s Cabin: Domestic Spaces of Racialization 161
    • 6. Racial (Re)Construction: Interracial Kinship and the Interracial Nation 195
  • Conclusion. “Minus Bloodlines”: White Womanhood and Failures of Interracial Kinship 229
  • Notes 245
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index

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Deconstructing Whiteness in “Incognegro”

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-12-06 03:11Z by Steven

Deconstructing Whiteness in “Incognegro”

Interminable Rambling
2020-12-03

Matthew Teutsch, Director of the Lillian E. Smith
Piedmont College, Demorest, Georgia

Every semester, I am amazed at the connective tissue that runs through the texts I place on the syllabus and the themes that arise. No matter the class, I construct my courses around themes, all teachers do. However, when a class ends poignantly on a recurring theme, I find it a really serendipitous occasion. This semester, in my Ethnic American Literature course, we explored the ways that we, as individuals, construct our identities based on ourselves and on the ways that others view us, specifically when they place their preconceived notions upon us. We looked at this from the beginning of the semester through the end. We explored it in the ways that Manar navigates her identity in a new land in Mohja Kahf’s “Manar of Hama” to the ways that Long Vanh navigates his Afro-Asian identity in the face of the community and his own family in Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land South of the Clouds.

We concluded the semester with Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro, a graphic novel that breaks down constructs of race and highlights the ways that society, especially those who want to maintain power, constructs one’s identity. Today, I want to look at a couple of moments from Incognegro and discuss how these moments add to the class’s discussions we have had throughout the course of the semester…

Read the entire article here.

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Olivia Ward Bush-Banks and the Dualism of African and Native American Identity

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2020-11-02 18:50Z by Steven

Olivia Ward Bush-Banks and the Dualism of African and Native American Identity

Amistad Research Center
Tilton Hall, Tulane University
6823 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70118

2014-09-24

Chianta Dorsey

The birth of the African American literary condition occurred in 1773 with the publication of Phyllis Wheatley’s book of poetry and has evolved into a thriving apparatus within American literature ever since. Olivia Ward Bush-Banks is amongst this tradition and the presence of her literary work offers a view into the complex identities of Americans—Black, Native American, and a woman, Bush-Banks had plenty to pull from when she began her writing career at the turn of the 20th century…

Read the entire article here.

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America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it’s time to remember him

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2020-11-01 03:18Z by Steven

America’s first vampire was Black and revolutionary – it’s time to remember him

The Conversation
2020-10-30

Sam George, Associate Professor of Research
University of Hertfordshire


The Black Vampyre is an early literary example of an argument for emancipation of slaves. Thomas Nast/Harper’s Weekly/The Met

In April of 1819, a London periodical, the New Monthly Magazine, published The Vampyre: A Tale by Lord Byron. Notice of its publication quickly appeared in papers in the United States.

Byron was at the time enjoying remarkable popularity and this new tale, supposedly by the famous poet, caused a sensation as did its reprintings in Boston’s Atheneum (15 June) and Baltimore’s Robinson’s Magazine (26 June).

The Vampyre did away with the East European peasant vampire of old. It took this monster out of the forests, gave him an aristocratic lineage and placed him into the drawing rooms of Romantic-era England. It was the first sustained fictional treatment of the vampire and completely recast the folklore and mythology on which it drew.

By July, Byron’s denial of authorship was being reported and by August the true author was discovered, John Polidori.

In the meantime, an American response, The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo, by one Uriah Derick D’Arcy, appeared. D’Arcy explicitly parodies The Vampyre and even suggests that Lord Ruthven, Polidori’s British vampire aristocrat, had his origins in the Carribean. A later reprinting in 1845 attributed The Black Vampyre to a Robert C Sands; however, many believe the author was more likely a Richard Varick Dey (1801–1837), a near anagram of the named author…

Read the entire article here.

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That Middle World: Race, Performance, and the Politics of Passing

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2020-10-11 02:38Z by Steven

That Middle World: Race, Performance, and the Politics of Passing

University of North Carolina Press
October 2020
242 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 10 halftones, 1 fig
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5957-2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5956-5
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5958-9

Julia S. Charles, Assistant Professor of English
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

In this study of racial passing literature, Julia S. Charles highlights how mixed-race subjects invent cultural spaces for themselves—a place she terms that middle world—and how they, through various performance strategies, make meaning in the interstices between the Black and white worlds. Focusing on the construction and performance of racial identity in works by writers from the antebellum period through Reconstruction, Charles creates a new discourse around racial passing to analyze mixed-race characters’ social objectives when crossing into other racialized spaces. To illustrate how this middle world and its attendant performativity still resonates in the present day, Charles connects contemporary figures, television, and film—including Rachel Dolezal and her Black-passing controversy, the FX show Atlanta, and the musical Show Boat—to a range of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literary texts. Charles’s work offers a nuanced approach to African American passing literature and examines how mixed-race performers articulated their sense of selfhood and communal belonging.

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How The Vanishing Half fits into our cultural fixation with racial passing stories

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-09-19 20:36Z by Steven

How The Vanishing Half fits into our cultural fixation with racial passing stories

Vox
2020-08-14

Constance Grady


Zac Freeland/Vox

The Vox Book Club is linking to Bookshop.org to support local and independent booksellers.

Passing for white never left.”

In Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, the character of Stella haunts the narrative like a ghost. Stella is the half who vanished: half of her family, half of her sister’s heart. And she vanished by excising half of her own identity.

Stella is a light-skinned Black woman, and when she is 16, she decides to start passing for white. Her identical twin sister Desiree, meanwhile, grows up to marry the darkest-skinned man she can find. Stella breaks away from her family, and we don’t get a chance to meet her on the pages of the novel until nearly halfway through the book when at last her niece, Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, tracks her down. It’s only in that last section that we finally learn exactly what happened to Stella.

Stella’s fate haunts the novel, and so does the genre her story belongs to. There’s a long history of narratives of racial passing in the American novel, and The Vanishing Half plays with the genre in new and interesting ways. So as the Vox Book Club spends the month talking about The Vanishing Half, I wanted to put it in the context of the passing novel more broadly.

To get an expert view, I called up Alisha Gaines, an English professor at Florida State University and the author of Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy. Together, we talked through the history of the African American passing novel, what passing looks like after Jim Crow (sorry, Ben Shapiro), and how passing novels can show us how race is produced and reproduced. Below is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.

The first African American stories of racial passing are slave narratives

Constance Grady

Do we know when the first of these narratives emerged? How old are stories about racial passing?

Alisha Gaines

It’s an old story. In literature and in life, America has a fascination with impersonation, which includes blackface minstrelsy. And passing narratives, if you want to be technical about it, in African American literature, they start with the slave narrative…

Read the entire interview here.

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