ENLS 4012-01 Lit: Cross-Dressing and Racial Passing

Posted in Course Offerings, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-02-10 11:42Z by Steven

ENLS 4012-01 Lit: Cross-Dressing and Racial Passing

Tulane University
New Orleans, Louisiana
Spring 2017

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] Larso[e]n, Patricia Powell, Toni Morrison. Films may include A Florida Enchantment and Boys Don’t Cry.

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Mulatto Bend: Free People of Color in Rural Louisiana, 1763-1865

Posted in Dissertations, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2012-09-27 04:49Z by Steven

Mulatto Bend: Free People of Color in Rural Louisiana, 1763-1865

Tulane University
2012-04-02
307 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3519906
ISBN: 9781267512932

Johanna Lee Davis Smith

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED ON THE SECOND DAY OF APRIL 2012 TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SCHOOL OF LIBERAL ARTS OF TULANE UNIVERSITY FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

This dissertation examines community and identity formation among free people of color in rural Louisiana between 1763 and 1865. The group studied here used the family, community, and financial benefits available to them as the mixed-race descendants of European and African ancestors in order to set themselves apart from the larger enslaved community and to avoid possible re-enslavement. Atlantic World influences played a key part in the establishment of Mulatto Bend, a small community of white and free black residents located on the Mississippi River in close proximity to Baton Rouge. Ideas of race and the paternalism of the French period resulted in a group of mixed-race offspring of French men and African women who were freed by their fathers and sometimes received financial assistance from them. Spanish control of Louisiana resulted in the even more relaxed environment in which authorities hungry to find settlers suitable to populate and guard their colony freely granted land to free people of color as well as whites. The community which developed was constituted of free mixed-race individuals who were property-owning Catholics, who intermarried, lived in a single geographical area, and cooperated in almost all facets of social, legal, and economic life in order to maintain their identity as a group. The records of the Spanish government of West Florida, parish probate documents, church parish sacramental records, and census records provide the major sources of information regarding the community. While quite successful during the Spanish period, the community began to decline in size by the 1830s as a result of financial stress brought on by general economic malaise and the sociopolitical hardening of the American period. Finally, emancipation removed the major difference between free people of color and slaves, forcing the former to search for ways to maintain their pre-emancipation social and economic status, most of which had been eroded by the depredations of war. This study will add to the body of knowledge regarding the lives of free people of color in the Gulf South who did not live in the more intensely studied city of New Orleans.

Purchase the dissertation here.

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Blacks, the white elite, and the politics of nation building: Inter and intraracial relationships in “Cecilia Valdes” and “O Mulato”

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-08-30 06:00Z by Steven

Blacks, the white elite, and the politics of nation building: Inter and intraracial relationships in “Cecilia Valdes” and “O Mulato”

Tulane University
May 2006
274 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3275113
ISBN: 9780549253327

Geoffrey Scott Mitchell

A Dissertation Submitted on the Twenty-Sixth day of May 2006 to the Department of Spanish and Portugues in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirments of the Graduate School of Tulate University for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This project is an examination of the novels O Mulato (Aluísio Azevedo, 1889) and Cecilia Valdés (Cirilo Villaverde, 1882) and their call for social reform and a re-examination of the place of blacks in the emerging republics of Brazil and Cuba. Both novels question and criticize social constructs of race while pressing for an improved treatment of both free and enslaved blacks.

This project provides an intellectual history of eighteenth and nineteenth century rac(ial)ist theories that exerted a pronounced influence on Azevedo and Villaverde. Specifically, this section examines physiognomy, phrenology, and craniometry in addition to sociological and anthropological approaches to racial hybridism, the evolutionary theories of Darwin and Spencer, and the geographical determinism of Buckle. Finally, the chapter provides a close reading of Comte’s positivism and its reception by the intelligentsia in Cuba and Brazil.

Azevedo’s O Mulato purports to discredit racial discrimination by white society and the destructive influence of the Catholic clergy in Brazil’s northern province of MaranhĂŁo during the 1870s by deploying the metaphor of an unsuccessful, interracial relationship involving a wealthy and educated mulatto and his white, aristocratic cousin. Although Azevedo endeavored to illustrate the problematic nature of racial discrimination and the social compartmentalization of blacks in Brazil—both relics of Portuguese colonialism—he nevertheless succumbed to the racialist ideologies of the nineteenth century and imbued his protagonist with stereotypical characteristics. Although blacks were rising socially via education and the military, Azevedo nevertheless envisioned a future, positivistic republic necessarily led by a white elite.

In Cecilia Valdés, Villaverde deploys an unsuccessful, interracial relationship involving a poor but beautiful, nearly-white mulatta and her aristocratic, half-brother as agents of the policy of whitening. As in O Mulato, the metaphor of an unsuccessful, interracial relationship reveals the difficulty in crossing racial and social castes and thus uniting different socio-economic sectors of the imagined community. Only one intraracial romance involving whites proves to be successful in the novel. This relationship serves as a metaphor indicating that only enlightened whites are capable of leading Cuba out of colonialism and into independence.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • 1. INTRODUCTION: SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL
  • 2. RACISM’S ROOTS: AN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF SELECT RACIALIST THEORIES OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
  • 3. BLACK MEN, WHITE WOMEN, AND THE FORMATION OF THE POSITIVIST STATE: ALUISIO AZEVEDO AND O MULATO
  • 4. FAILED RELATIONSHIPS, FRAGMENTED SOCIETIES: RACE, SEX, AND METAPHOR IN CECILIA VALDES
  • 5. CONCLUSION: BLACKS, THE WHITE ELITE, AND PROJECTS FOR NATIONAL IDENTITY
  • ENDNOTES
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY

Purchase the dissertation here.

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