The Optics of Interracial Sexuality in Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings and Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-06-23 19:45Z by Steven

The Optics of Interracial Sexuality in Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings and Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

College Literature
Volume 41, Number 1, Winter 2014
pages 119-148
DOI: 10.1353/lit.2014.0004

Jolie A. Sheffer, Associate Professor, English and American Culture Studies
Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio

This essay focuses on the racial and sexual politics undergirding interracial relationships between men of color and white women. Alexie and Tomine’s works reveal how legal and cinematic histories of interracial romance continue to shape ethnic men’s sense of individual and community identity. An example of comparative ethnic-studies scholarship, this essay explores how minority subjects in the US are shaped by distinct racial logics. Alexie’s collection reflects the influence of the cinematic tropes of the Western and the history of US government attempts to weaken tribal ties on contemporary Native American male characters. Tomine’s graphic novel reveals the racial and sexual conventions of mainstream pornography and the individualist logic of the model minority myth on Asian-American men. Both authors suggest that queerness functions as an alternative ethical relation between parties, one grounded in equality rather than domination and relatively free of the visual logic of racialization.

Read the entire article here.

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Kafka’s Blues: Figurations of Racial Blackness in the Construction of an Aesthetic

Posted in Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2016-06-19 23:44Z by Steven

Kafka’s Blues: Figurations of Racial Blackness in the Construction of an Aesthetic

Northwestern University Press
June 2016
184 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8101-3286-3
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8101-3285-6
E-book ISBN: 978-0-8101-3287-0

Mark Christian Thompson, Associate Professor of English
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Kafka’s Blues proves the startling thesis that many of Kafka’s major works engage in a coherent, sustained meditation on racial transformation from white European into what Kafka refers to as the “Negro” (a term he used in English). Indeed, this book demonstrates that cultural assimilation and bodily transformation in Kafka’s work are impossible without passage through a state of being “Negro.” Kafka represents this passage in various ways—from reflections on New World slavery and black music to evolutionary theory, biblical allusion, and aesthetic primitivism—each grounded in a concept of writing that is linked to the perceived congenital musicality of the “Negro,” and which is bound to his wider conception of aesthetic production. Mark Christian Thompson offers new close readings of canonical texts and undervalued letters and diary entries set in the context of the afterlife of New World slavery and in Czech and German popular culture.

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Theatre Review: ‘An Octoroon’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-19 18:16Z by Steven

Theatre Review: ‘An Octoroon’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Maryland Theatre Guide
2016-06-05

Jennifer Minich

We need to talk about An Octoroon: a razor-sharp, thought-provoking, radical, comical blast from the past. Playwright and DC native (bonus points) Branden Jacobs-Jenkins returns to Woolly Mammoth for the DC premiere of An Octoroon, an adaption of the 1859 melodrama, The Octoroon, by Anglo-Irish playwright Dion Boucicault.

The Octoroon is set at Terrebonne, a Louisiana plantation on the brink of financial ruin. When the new owner, George Peyton (Jon Hudson Odom), takes ownership of Terrebonne, he falls in love with his uncle’s illegitimate, one-eighth black daughter, Zoe (Kathryn Tkel). When the flailing plantation goes up for auction, and Zoe along with it, violence and chaos ensue…

Read the entire review here.

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Reaping Something New: African American Transformations of Victorian Literature

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2016-06-19 17:49Z by Steven

Reaping Something New: African American Transformations of Victorian Literature

Princeton University Press
November 2016
344 pages
6 x 9
12 line illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780691169453
eBook ISBN: 9781400883745

Daniel Hack, Associate Professor of English
University of Michigan

Tackling fraught but fascinating issues of cultural borrowing and appropriation, this groundbreaking book reveals that Victorian literature was put to use in African American literature and print culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in much more intricate, sustained, and imaginative ways than previously suspected. From reprinting and reframing “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in an antislavery newspaper to reimagining David Copperfield and Jane Eyre as mixed-race youths in the antebellum South, writers and editors transposed and transformed works by the leading British writers of the day to depict the lives of African Americans and advance their causes. Central figures in African American literary and intellectual history—including Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and W.E.B. Du Bois—leveraged Victorian literature and this history of engagement itself to claim a distinctive voice and construct their own literary tradition.

In bringing these transatlantic transfigurations to light, this book also provides strikingly new perspectives on both canonical and little-read works by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and other Victorian authors. The recovery of these works’ African American afterlives illuminates their formal practices and ideological commitments, and forces a reassessment of their cultural impact and political potential. Bridging the gap between African American and Victorian literary studies, Reaping Something New changes our understanding of both fields and rewrites an important chapter of literary history.

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Editorial Observer; Back When Skin Color Was Destiny — Unless You Passed for White

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-19 01:49Z by Steven

Editorial Observer; Back When Skin Color Was Destiny — Unless You Passed for White

The New York Times
2003-09-07

Brent Staples

The New Yorker was trying not to speak ill of the dead when it described Anatole Broyard as the ”famously prickly critic for the Times, a man who demanded so much from books that it seemed he could never be satisfied.” From his early reviews for The Times in the 1960’s up to his death in 1990, Mr. Broyard was often gratuitously cruel and clever at the author’s expense.

The novelist Philip Roth was one of the favored few. Mr. Broyard praised him in the column ”About Books” and seemed to see his life through Mr. Roth’s work. When Mr. Broyard was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he compared his symptoms to those of Portnoy, Mr. Roth’s fictional alter ego in ”Portnoy’s Complaint.”

The comparison made perfect sense. Mr. Roth’s great theme was his own struggle to preserve selfhood against the smothering pressures of ethnic identity. That, in a nutshell, was Mr. Broyard’s life. He was a light-skinned black man born in New Orleans in 1920 into a family whose members sometimes passed as white to work at jobs from which black people were barred. The largest private employer of black labor at the time was the Pullman Company, which sought college-educated black men to work essentially as servants on train cars that accommodated white travelers only…

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Racial identity: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Anatole Broyard

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-19 01:22Z by Steven

Racial identity: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Anatole Broyard

The Globe and Mail
1999-11-23

Robert Fulford

For many years, Anatole Broyard of The New York Times was a dashing figure in literary New York, a critic of exceptional charm and wit. He was said to be one of those people who talk spontaneously in well-shaped and often funny sentences. After his death in 1990, at the age of 70, a friend remarked in an obituary, “When Anatole entered, the room would light up.”

His essays were full of engaging ideas, but it turned out that his life was even more interesting. He had a secret that even his wife wasn’t allowed to mention. As they used to say, he was “passing.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Confederate Dissident, in a Film With Footnotes

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-17 19:01Z by Steven

A Confederate Dissident, in a Film With Footnotes

The New York Times
2016-06-15

Jennifer Schuessler

The forthcoming Matthew McConaughey drama “Free State of Jones” lays claim to being the first Hollywood film in decades to depict Reconstruction, the still controversial post-Civil War period that attempted to rebuild the South along racially egalitarian lines.

But the movie, written and directed by Gary Ross, might also lay claim to a more unusual title: the first Hollywood drama to come with footnotes.

The film recounts the true story of Newton Knight (Mr. McConaughey), a Confederate deserter who led a ragtag dissident army from the swamps of Jones County, Miss., and continued to fight for the rights of African-Americans after the Civil War ended…

…Where Mr. Ross has invented characters or episodes or made guesses about motivations, he explains why, pointing to justifications in the historical record. For example, the film depicts Knight’s decades-long relationship with Rachel (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw of “Belle”), a former slave who once belonged to his grandfather and with whom he had several children. The site shows an 1876 document in which Knight (who remained married to his white wife) deeded her 160 acres of land — an indication, Mr. Ross writes, that theirs was “a loving relationship that grew over time,” rather than manifesting a “Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings power dynamic.” Knight did not own slaves.

The extent of Knight’s collaborations across the color line has been a point of sometimes hot debate among scholars, including those on Mr. Ross’s team. In 2009, after Mr. Stauffer and Sally Jenkins published “The State of Jones,” a book inspired by Mr. Ross’s screenplay, Ms. Bynum posted a blistering three-part review on her blog, questioning what she called its “highly exaggerated claims” that Knight had fought for racial equality before and after the war…

…It remains to be seen how Mr. Ross’s film will land with audiences. Kellie Carter Jackson, an assistant professor of history at Hunter College and the author of the coming book “Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence,” said there was a need for a more accurate depiction of Reconstruction, but noted that Hollywood “has a hard time divesting white men from the center of the universe.”…

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Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century exhibition, HOME, reviewed by Şima İmşir Parker

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2016-06-16 18:26Z by Steven

Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century exhibition, HOME, reviewed by Şima İmşir Parker

The Manchester Review
Manchester, England
May 2016

Şima İmşir Parker, Graduate Teaching Assistant
University of Manchester

Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century, Home, 30 April 2016 – 3 July 2016

“The melodramatic body is a body seized with meaning” writes Peter Brooks in “Melodrama, Body, Revolution.” Body is not only a sight branded with meanings and symbolism, but also a sight where resistance becomes possible through the gestures and mimics where what is repressed comes back to life. Melodramatic bodies are sights of both stigma as well as expression and resistance, something that the new Home exhibition Imitation of Life: Melodrama and Race in the 21st Century successfully brings forth by revealing the politics on and of the body, more specifically through the representations of race, gender and sexuality in the post-digital world in which we live.

The exhibition opens with Sophia Al-Maria’s new work, Scarce New Flowers, a photographic series of real products, “facial whitening creams” sold in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa with instructions only in Mandarin and Arabic. With the images of real boxes with women’s faces on them growing, being repeated and distorted, the product itself becomes melodramatic and hyperbolic, acting as a stark reminder of on-going racial stereotypes (and passing) that exist within a cross-cultural spectrum.

Passing as white is a subject widely discussed around Fanny Hurst’s novel Imitation of Life and its later movie adaptations, the work that gives its title to the exhibition. The novel was published in 1933. Almost immediately after its publication, in 1934, its first movie adaptation, directed by John Stahl, made it to the big screen. The life of the story however was not limited to one adaptation. In 1959, an iconic name for melodramas, Douglas Sirk, made another adaptation of the novel. This version, although not as loyal to the original story as John Stahl’s version, gained far greater popularity. The story, narrating two women’s struggle to take care of themselves and their daughters, was revealing of racial and gender stereotypes by portraying the black maid (Delilah/Annie) as the caregiving “mama” whose daughter (Peola/Sarah Jane) passes as white and the white single mother (Bae/Lora) who chooses a successful career at the cost of not providing care for her daughter and not uniting with her loved one. In 2002 Todd Haynes remade the movie, this time shifting the focus from race to homosexuality…

Read the entire review here.

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A Genetic Fallacy: Monstrous Allegories of Mixed-Race in Gothic and Contemporary Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-06-14 20:25Z by Steven

A Genetic Fallacy: Monstrous Allegories of Mixed-Race in Gothic and Contemporary Literature

University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
2016
119 pages

Rylan Spenrath

A Thesis Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies of the University of Lethbridge in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

My thesis examines the similar intersections of hybridity that are embodied in both representations of monstrosity and the politics surrounding people of mixed-race. Drawing from Robert J.C. Young’s text Colonial Desire, I argue that monstrosity and mixed-race present diachronically parallel embodiments of hybridity. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen views monsters as “disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration” (loc 226); however, monsters and multiracial people do not inherently disturb category. Gothic representation of monstrosity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde confirms that hybridity can be exploited in order to strengthen colonial categories of Self and Other. Postmodern monstrosity in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and Octavia Butler’s Imago, complicate ostensibly rigid categories of identity only for the Gothic binary to resurface beneath the masks of superheroes and supervillains.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • Introduction: The Intersection of Hybridity, Multiculturalism, and Monstrosity
  • Chapter One: Hybridity Unsettled: Gothic Monstrosity and the Uncanny Valley
  • Chapter Two: Distinctly Ambivalent: Category Crisis and the Postmodern Monster
  • Chapter Three: Monster Masks: Monstrosity in the Superhuman Genre
  • Conclusion
  • References

Read the entire thesis here.

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Loving Day 2016

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2016-06-13 00:17Z by Steven

Loving Day 2016

Hapa Happy Hour
2016-06-11

Tune in with Lisa and Hiwa as they discover technology and talk about race, Loving Day, films, and politics! And feel free to contact us through hapahappyhour@gmail.com. Happy Loving Day!

Listen to the podcast here. Download the podcast here.

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