In visit to Kenyon, author illuminates history of racial passing in America

Posted in Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-11-13 04:28Z by Steven

In visit to Kenyon, author illuminates history of racial passing in America

Kenyon College
Gambier, Ohio

Mary Keister, Director of News Media Relations
Telephone: 740-427-5592

GAMBIER, Ohio — Award-winning author Gail Lukasik will speak about her book “White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing” at Kenyon College on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. The event, free and open to the public, will be held in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater, 101 ½ College Drive.

Lukasik’s memoir chronicles her journey to uncover her mother’s racial lineage and traces her family back to 18th-century colonial Louisiana. Her mother was born into a black family in New Orleans and eventually left the Jim Crow South, moving north and marrying a white man. She passed as white for the rest of her life.

In 1995, as Lukasik, who identifies as white, was exploring Louisiana census records, she learned that her mother’s father and his entire family were designated black. The shocking discovery changed her sense and understanding of white identity.

When Lukasik tried to ask her mother questions about her family’s black heritage, her mother refused to speak about the matter and told her daughter to not share the secret. In the 17 years Lukasik kept her mother’s secret, the author of mystery novels started to retrace her memories in order to better understand her mother, sorting out fiction from truth to solve her own real-life mystery. Was this why, growing up, Lukasik never really visited her mother’s side of the family or saw pictures of her grandfather?…

Read the entire press release here.

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ENGL 487: The Mulatto in American Fiction

Posted in Course Offerings, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2011-11-23 04:05Z by Steven

ENGL 487: The Mulatto in American Fiction

Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio
Fall 2004

Jené Schoenfeld, Assistant Professor of English

The mulatto balances precariously on the razor-thin edge of the color line between black and white. In the antebellum era, the mulatto’s proximity to whiteness made the mulatto an attractive object for Abolitionist sympathy. In the Jim Crow era, that proximity made the mulatto a threat to the security of white privilege. In our present moment, this figure has all but disappeared, though it seems to be re-emerging in a new form with Tiger Woods, Cablinasian, and Vin Diesel, “multiracial movie star.” This course will explore representations of the mulatto in American fiction and culture. In addition to reading some great works of literature, by authors such as William Faulkner, Nella Larsen, Charles Chesnutt, and Mark Twain (to name only a few), we will use our discussions about the trope of the mulatto to consider some of the more perplexing theoretical issues concerning race in America. We’ll begin with concerns generated specifically by the mulatto, such as: passing (the “problem” of the racially ambiguous body), racial allegiance, biological determinism (nature/nurture), hybrid degeneracy, and the mulatto’s “tragic” marginality. From there, we’ll move to the big questions, including, but not limited to: What is race? What is its determining factor: physical features, ancestry, culture? Can it be chosen or rejected? The course will concentrate on fiction of the Jim Crow era, a period of particularly intense struggle over the significance of race, but may also draw on other disciplines, such as science and law, and other historical moments. This course fulfills the post-1900 requirement. It can be used to fulfill requirements in African Diaspora Studies. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

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