Shades of Gray: Writing the New American Multiracialism

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2018-12-03 04:19Z 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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Brass Ankle Blues, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2018-11-13 05:38Z by Steven

Brass Ankle Blues, A Novel

Simon & Schuster
2006
304 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780743296588
eBook ISBN: 9780743299008

Rachel M. Harper

Brass ankle blues 9780743296588 hr

“When I was seven I told my father that I wanted to grow up to be invisible.”

As a young woman of mixed race, Nellie Kincaid is about to encounter the strange, unsettling summer of her fifteenth year. Reeling from the recent separation of her parents, Nellie finds herself traveling to the family’s lake house with only her father and her estranged cousin, leaving behind the life and the mother she is trying to forget.

As the summer progresses, Nellie will have to define herself, navigating the twists and turns of first love. At the same time, her family is becoming more and more divided by the day. Does her newfound identity require her to distance herself from those she loves, or will it draw her closer?

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Shades of gray: Black-white multiracialism in contemporary American literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-06-05 03:51Z by Steven

Shades of gray: Black-white multiracialism in contemporary American literature

York University (Canada)
2011
294 pages
Publication Number: AAT NR71345
ISBN: 9780494713457

Molly Littlewood McKibbin

A Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in English in partial fulfillment of the requirments for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The American construction of whiteness and blackness as dichotomous racial categories and subsequent black refashioning of the one-drop rule as a method of empowering and mobilizing African Americans have meant that whiteness has developed in terms of purity (and not-blackness) while blackness has absorbed mixture into one racial category. However, since the Civil Rights Movement and the Multiracial Movement (begun shortly after the Loving v. Virginia decision invalidated antimiscegenation laws in 1967), American treatment of racial mixture has undergone consistent change. My dissertation addresses how literature at the turn of the millennium ultimately offers a new exploration of black-white multiracialism. I examine four texts in detail: Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998), Rebecca Walker’s Black White and Jewish (2001), Emily Raboteau’s The Professor’s Daughter (2005), and Rachel Harper’s Brass Ankle Blues (2006).

The introduction outlines the historical development of racial blackness in the U.S. and traces the possibilities and limitations of racial identity for multiracial figures throughout African American literary history. In the first chapter, I analyze more recent multiracial theory and advocacy to establish and critique the state of current discourse surrounding (multi)racial identity and also examine the ways in which contemporary writers depict the negotiation of racial identity within a new social climate that permits self-identification but still clings to recognized labels. In the second chapter, I use white studies and an understanding of the historical development of racial whiteness in the U.S. to analyze how contemporary writing is transforming the apparent homogeneity of whiteness into a heterogeneous classification by racializing and diversifying the otherwise normative, generic category of whiteness. In the third chapter, I use the context of black racial identity politics to analyze the difficulty multiracial figures have in claiming blackness, since on the one hand they are “not black enough” to claim blackness and on the other they are seen as “race traitors” for not claiming monoracial blackness.

My research emphasizes that multiracial discourse is still in its formative stages but is working towards articulating multiracial identities and writing them into the American literary landscape even if current literature can only gesture towards such identities at present.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Black and White in the United States
  • Chapter One: “What are you, anyway?”: Mixture, Identity Formation, and the Social Context of Race Classification
  • Chapter Two: Racializin’ and Diversifyin’: Negotiating Whiteness
  • Chapter Three: “Black Like Me”: Negotiating Blackness
  • Conclusion: The (Continuing) Work of Multiracial Literature
  • Bibliography

Purchase the dissertation here.

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