|Course Offerings, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-02-10 11:42Z by Steven|
New Orleans, Louisiana
Lauren Heintz, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
The genre and literary trope of passing, most commonly expressed in characters who are “legally” black but who are able to pass for white, is a popular narrative that runs throughout American fiction from the mid-nineteenth to late-twentieth century. The importance of the passing narrative rests is in its ability to expose how race is a social construct, set down in legal codes like “one-drop-rules.” Alongside narratives of racial passing also runs narratives of cross dressing and gender passing (man for woman or woman for man). This course will examine why and how racial passing is often aided and abetted by gender passing. Taking an intersectional approach, this course will continuously think through how race, gender, class, and sexuality are social constructs. We will begin with foundational texts of racial passing and the discourse of blackface, and we will build on this by moving to texts in which race and gender passing converge. We will come to better understand these constructs through the language of fiction, metaphors of race, performances of gender, and the visual strategies of film. Literary selections will include works by Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, Ellen and Willian Craft, Pauline Hopkins, Billy Tipton, Nell[a] Lars
o[e]n, Patricia Powell, Toni Morrison. Films may include A Florida Enchantment and Boys Don’t Cry.