The Pose as Interventionist Gesture: Erica Lord and Decolonizing the Proper Subject of Memory

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-11-17 17:35Z by Steven

The Pose as Interventionist Gesture: Erica Lord and Decolonizing the Proper Subject of Memory

E-Misférica
Decolonial Gesture, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2014

Colleen Kim Daniher
School of Communication
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

This article investigates the decolonial politics of the pose in the photographic and installation work of mixed-race Native Alaskan artist Erica Lord. Refiguring the pose as decolonial gesture, I argue that Lord’s poses can be understood as decolonial labor because of the ways in which they employ messy genealogies of colonial space and time in order to disrupt the linear unfolding of white settler colonial history. In the act of posing, Lord intervenes in a visual and historical archive that positions both Native and mixed race subjects—especially women—as particularly vulnerable subjects to the ongoing Western imperial project of assimilationist inclusion. Lord’s photographic poses enact a literal seizure of time that resists both the presumed past-ness of the Native American and the presumed futurity of the racially-ambiguous, mixed race woman. In so doing, she revises the temporal politics of both, critically calling into question “the proper” subject of memory.

And it is always exciting, then and now, to realize that you are not a person or a voice that stands alone […] There’s this quote that I repeat to myself all the time, I put it on the starter slide for just about every presentation I give, and I think about it often…

Erica Lord, in interview with Dasha Shleyeva

and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent we are still afraid
so it is better to speak
remembering
we were never
meant to survive

Audre Lorde from Litany for Survival

A woman, hair bleached blond and eyes rimmed with kohl, gazes directly into the camera. She is naked, save for a banana-lined skirt and piles of necklaces cascading down her bare breasts. Back arched, her hands wrapped around her exposed stomach, the woman’s feet are planted firmly on the ground, yet her long legged stance suggests the latent possibility of movement, of dance. We have seen this image, differently, before. Behind her, a double shadow, as if in flight, splays against the obvious studio backdrop. Moving between darkness and light, stillness and movement, presence and absence, the photograph conjures the ghost of Josephine Baker only to refract it, multiplying different trajectories of space and time both into the past and into the future.

The image is multimedia artist Erica Lord’s 2005 self-portrait, Danse Sauvage, and it features the artist in costume and in character as Baker. Lord is a self-identified mixed-race Native Alaskan of Athabascan (interior Alaska), Inupiat (North and Northwest Alaska), Finnish, Swedish, English, and Japanese descent. She has described the work as being “a direct response to the feeling of being seen as exotic,” explaining that she: “tried looking back in history, at other mixed women, or other Native women who sort of owned that power [of exoticism] […] The photograph sort of grew from this desire to emulate or embody that sort of force or power that she [Josephine Baker] had” (Shleyeva 2010). Although some might object to Lord’s proximate staging of North American Indigenous and Black diasporic histories, this essay seizes upon Lord’s identificatory “look back in history” in order to examine the ways in which such a gesture critically addresses the overlapping but sometimes fraught relationship between decolonizing and antiracist epistemological stances. Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua have characterized this antagonism as an issue of historical memory: critical race and postcolonial theory systematically erases Aboriginal peoples and decolonization from the construction of knowledge about ‘race,’ racism, racial subjectivities, and antiracism…the exclusion of Aboriginal peoples from the project of antiracism erases them from history. (Lawrence and Dua 2005, 132)…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, United States on 2014-11-09 23:40Z by Steven

Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture

Rutgers University Press
May 2015
256 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-7070-9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-7069-3
Web PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-7071-6
epub ISBN: 978-0-8135-7537-7

Jennifer Ann Ho, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The sheer diversity of the Asian American populace makes them an ambiguous racial category. Indeed, the 2010 U.S. Census lists twenty-four Asian-ethnic groups, lumping together under one heading people with dramatically different historical backgrounds and cultures. In Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture, Jennifer Ann Ho shines a light on the hybrid and indeterminate aspects of race, revealing ambiguity to be paramount to a more nuanced understanding both of race and of what it means to be Asian American.

Exploring a variety of subjects and cultural artifacts, Ho reveals how Asian American subjects evince a deep racial ambiguity that unmoors the concept of race from any fixed or finite understanding. For example, the book examines the racial ambiguity of Japanese American Nisei Yoshiko Nakamura deLeon, who during World War II underwent an abrupt transition from being an enemy alien to an assimilating American, via the Mixed Marriage Policy of 1942. It looks at the blogs of Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese Americans who were adopted as children by white American families and have conflicted feelings about their “honorary white” status. And it discusses Tiger Woods, the most famous mixed-race Asian American, whose description of himself as “Cablinasian”—reflecting his background as Black, Asian, Caucasian, and Native American—perfectly captures the ambiguity of racial classifications.

Race is an abstraction that we treat as concrete, a construct that reflects only our desires, fears, and anxieties. Jennifer Ho demonstrates in Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture that seeing race as ambiguous puts us one step closer to a potential antidote to racism.

Table Of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Ambiguous Americans: Race and the State of Asian America
  • 1. From Enemy Alien to Assimilating American: Yoshiko deLeon and the Mixed-Marriage Policy of the Japanese American Incarceration
  • 2. Anti-Sentimental Loss: Stories of Transracial/Transnational Asian American Adult Adoptees in the Blogosphere
  • 3. Cablinasian Dreams, Amerasian Realities: Transcending Race in the Twenty-first Century and Other Myths Broken by Tiger Woods
  • 4. Ambiguous Movements and Mobile Subjectivity: Passing in between Autobiography and Fiction with Paisley Rekdal and Ruth Ozeki
  • 5. Transgressive Texts and Ambiguous Authors: Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Literature
  • Coda: Ending with Origins: My Own Racial Ambiguity
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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More Than “Black-ish”: Examining Representations of Biracial People

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-09 19:12Z by Steven

More Than “Black-ish”: Examining Representations of Biracial People

For Harriet
2014-11-08

Aphrodite Kocieda

Being biracial can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, especially because it highlights a sensitive history of colorism, racism, and favoritism within the Black community. The unapologetic presence of biracial people in contemporary media culture is beginning to spark questions about what it means to be black, and if biracial people “count” as black. We often speak about biracial people through a black apocalyptic narrative; meaning that the increase of biracial individuals represented in the media seemingly comes at a cost of erasing darker-skinned black people from the screen. This narrative is unproductive and anti-intersectional.

Salon writer Morgan Jerkins recently wrote a critique of the film “Dear White People” demonstrating how it was problematic that their most complex character was Sam, a biracial woman. Yes, folks, we live in a white supremacy; however, I am suspicious of people who want to end colorism with surface-level critiques. They call every representation of a light-skinned person a giant step backwards and offer no solutions for moving forward that honors the complexity and diversity of blackness. Jerkins’ sentiments were as trite and obvious as natural hair nazis who think every black woman with straight hair is a dupe. It’s much more complex than that. Sam’s authenticity as a black woman was questioned and it was assumed that the film may have been more dynamic if a darker-skinned (i.e. “fully” black) woman was cast instead. As a biracial woman myself, I thought the critique was quite dull and lacked any real depth…

..The show “Black-ish” picks up on this uneasiness surrounding biracial identity and ideas of blackness. The lead black character Dre (played by Anthony Anderson) struggles with his own blackness because he is wealthy, however he seems comfortable insisting that his mixed-race wife Rainbow (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) isn’t black. In the pilot episode, she tries to comfort him after a bad day at work and he teases her by stating that since she’s biracial—thus, she’s not really black.

In response, she states, “Okay, well, if I’m not really black, then could somebody please tell my hair and my ass?”

I celebrated this moment. She wasn’t asking for permission to be black. She claimed it, which is powerful when people interrogate our (meaning, biracial women) need to take up space in black narratives…

Read the entire article here.

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241F Performances of Passing, Performances of Resistance

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Course Offerings, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-11-09 17:54Z by Steven

241F Performances of Passing, Performances of Resistance

Hamilton College, Clinton, New York
Spring 2014

Yumi Pak, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

An examination of the historical practice of passing in the United States. While the practice has most commonly referred to the history of racial passing for light-skinned African Americans in the early 20th century, this course will situate acts of passing as acts of resistance through close readings of literature, film and performance studies. Scholars and authors include Soyica Diggs Colbert, Fred Moten, Dael Orlandersmith and Suzan-Lori Parks. We will consider how performances of passing have the potential to challenge institutional power. (Same as English and Creative Writing 241.)

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Jean Toomer: Race, Repression, and Revolution

Posted in Biography, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-11-09 17:48Z by Steven

Jean Toomer: Race, Repression, and Revolution

University of Illinois Press
July 2014
336 pages
6.125 x 9.25 in.
10 black & white photographs, 1 chart
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-03844-0

Barbara Foley, Professor of English
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark

Political and personal repression and its effect on the work of a Harlem Renaissance luminary

The 1923 publication of Cane established Jean Toomer as a modernist master and one of the key literary figures of the emerging Harlem Renaissance. Though critics and biographers alike have praised his artistic experimentation and unflinching eyewitness portraits of Jim Crow violence, few seem to recognize how much Toomer’s interest in class struggle, catalyzed by the Russian Revolution and the post–World War One radical upsurge, situate his masterwork in its immediate historical context.

In Jean Toomer: Race, Repression, and Revolution, Barbara Foley explores Toomer’s political and intellectual connections with socialism, the New Negro movement, and the project of Young America. Examining his rarely scrutinized early creative and journalistic writings, as well as unpublished versions of his autobiography, she recreates the complex and contradictory consciousness that produced Cane.

Foley’s discussion of political repression runs parallel with a portrait of repression on a personal level. Examining family secrets heretofore unexplored in Toomer scholarship, she traces their sporadic surfacing in Cane. Toomer’s text, she argues, exhibits a political unconscious that is at once public and private.

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Am I ‘black enough’?

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-06 01:41Z by Steven

Am I ‘black enough’?

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-10-27

Gene Seymour

Editor’s note: Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

(CNN) — I am black, though for most of my life, I’ve heard from various people that I wasn’t.

From children with skin the same color as mine saying that my normal speaking voice was somehow faked and that I spoke and therefore acted “like a white man”; from a black woman who berated me for listening to the Beatles in my car because, in her words, their music “wasn’t yours”; from strangers and would-be acquaintances of varied races over several decades who openly wondered if I was something other than African-American because of an eclectic range of interests (Jewish novelists, New Wave French movies, Wallace Stevens’ poetry, etc.) that didn’t quite jibe with whatever was expected from African-Americans.

There was even a liberal white teacher in my high school who suggested to me, straight-faced and with the very best of intentions, that if I was feeling out of place among my fellow black students I should just spend more time around what was then called “the ghetto” and learn how to speak as they would prefer; maybe even to adopt their speech as my own, so as to ….I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m guessing it was to better embody whatever her idea of legitimate blackness was back in the mid-60s.

If you came of age in mid- to late-20th century America when the civil rights movement gave way to growing consciousness of, and pride in being of African descent, the charge from within the black community that you were Not Black Enough was almost as wounding, even debilitating, as a racial epithet from a white person.

Apparently, you can’t even win a Super Bowl as a black quarterback without somebody slurring your authenticity. There were reports swirling around the Internet last week that Russell Wilson, signal caller for the defending NFL champion Seattle Seahawks, was being accused by some of his black teammates of being Not Black Enough. “I don’t even know what that means,” Wilson, who has mixed-race parentage, told a press conference yesterday after his team rallied from a two-week losing streak to beat the Carolina Panthers

…This fall, what was once a mostly insular discourse among black folks has gone even more public through two cozily familiar entertainment genres: the family sitcom and the campus comedy.

The latter, “Dear White People” is writer-director Justin Simien’s Sundance Film Festival sensation about culture clashes between white and black students (and among black students themselves) at a mythical Ivy League college. There’s a black Big Man On Campus named (what else) Troy, who besides being the son of the dean of students is dating the daughter of the white university president. There’s also a gay nerd-outcast named Lionel, who wears a retrograde Afro hairstyle so big as to be compared to a weather system, listens to Mumford & Sons, loves Robert Altman movies and, as he puts it, “isn’t black enough” for either the black or the white students.

The most radical character is a mixed-race young woman named Sam White, a rabble-rousing radio jock and aspiring filmmaker whose acerbically funny barbs aimed at genteel racial stereotyping at mythical Winchester University sets off a nationalist insurgency among the black students. Yet, as with Lionel, she carries a portfolio of seeming contradictions, such as a white lover and a preference for Ingmar Bergman’s movies over Spike Lee’s

Read the entire article here.

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The “Dear White People” syndrome: Why movies are obsessed with light-skinned black characters

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-11-05 19:11Z by Steven

The “Dear White People” syndrome: Why movies are obsessed with light-skinned black characters

Salon
2014-10-23

Morgan Jerkins

This isn’t the first film to relegate dark-skinned actors to the sidelines — but it may be the most frustrating

For Princeton University’s recent Black Alumni Conference, an advance screening of “Dear White People” took place at the town’s Garden Theater, and I was one of many who could not wait to see it. Throughout the film, I could hear many black alums scoff at some of the micro-aggressions that we’ve all experienced and heard about, or laugh at all the things that we’ve all wanted to say in response to white people when these experiences occur but may have never had the gall to do so. The film is a bold attempt. But I could not help wondering why a light-skinned biracial woman was the lead female protagonist, the champion of civil rights on the fictitious Winchester University’s campus.

Frankly, as a light-skinned African-American female, I am tired of seeing women who look like myself presented as the epitome of complexity when it comes to setting forth the many different layers of the black experience for a mainstream audience. Yet we all know why this happens. A lighter-skinned black person is more marketable to an overwhelmingly white-dominated space. Not to mention, white appeal equals more marketability. The brown skin with a yellow undertone is the color “nearest [to] the light,” as Goethe once wrote, or in this case, to whiteness. White moviegoers want to see their reflections. Film is a form of escapism tinged with a dash of possibility from this perspective. A white character can be a villain or a hero while exemplifying a wide variety of emotions, and for a light-skinned black character with a name as equally “safe” as Samantha White, it all makes sense. She was able to show her radical and revolutionary side while effortlessly switching to her vulnerable side, via teary eyes, deliberate hesitations in speech, and even hairstyle changes to reflect her character development…

Read the entire article here.

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Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial by Ralina L. Joseph (review) [Ardizzone]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-10-29 00:25Z by Steven

Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial by Ralina L. Joseph (review) [Ardizzone]

African American Review
Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2013
pages 787-790
DOI: 10.1353/afa.2013.0105

Heidi Ardizzone, Assistant Professor of American Studies
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

Joseph, Ralina L., Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012)

Ralina Joseph begins Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial with a personal story. Her own engagement with ongoing debates over identity, ancestry, authenticity, and race mirrored political and cultural shifts in perceptions of people of mixed ancestry at the time. As a college student in the 1990s, Joseph quickly embraced the term multiracial to describe her own “race story,” becoming a leader of Brown (University’s) Organization of Multi- and Biracial Students (BOMBS). Being multiracial became, she says, a “full blown preoccupation” (xv), resulting in her undergraduate thesis on cultural depictions of black-white women. Transcending Blackness continues this project, identifying two related images, the millennial mulatta, and the exceptional multiracial, which operate in a dialectic cultural relationship as a “two-sided stereotype” (5). Joseph defines both representations in relationship to blackness: Millennials are punished for their attempts to identify as black; exceptionals are rewarded for transcending blackness or even race itself. Rather than demonstrating that blackness might be embraced “in messy, hybridized, multiracial forms” in the cultural texts Joseph examines, blackness is the thing that “must be risen above, surpassed, or truly transcended” (4). However, Joseph also introduces a third potential option: multiracial blackness, identifying positively and simultaneously as mixed and as black or African American. While she embraces this option for herself and claims it as a dominant identity, the authors whose works she analyzes never display it in their fictional depictions of this black-unite figure. So multiracial blackness forms a third point in a now triangulated relationship that crosses the line between social experience and cultural representation.

Transcending Blackness follows a familiar literary and media studies format: The Preface, Introduction, and Conclusion bracket four chapters, each focusing on a particular genre, work, and multiracial or black-white female character. Joseph’s Introduction lays out her terms and framework, while providing a clear and concise history of people of mixed ancestry, of their treatment and categorization, and of the attitudes toward and circumstances of interracial unions. She also provides a selective trajectory of literary and media depictions of the black-white figure covering roughly a century prior to her target years of 1998-2008. This decade spans the first inclusion of the “pick one or more” option under the federal census’ racial categories, and the election of the first U.S. president who could have—but publically didn’t—exercise that option. Like the twenty years that preceded it, the 1998-2008 decade falls squarely in the overlapping postracial and postfeminist eras that Joseph identifies as key to understanding the shifting meaning of the representations of black-white women. However, her decade is a static one: Her chapters are not chronological, but organized around her analytic positioning of each text and character within her framework.

One result of this is that the four main chapters operate in some ways more as related essays than as an integrated argument. But there is a consistent analytical thread. In the first two chapters Joseph presents two examples of the new millennium mulatta to show “how blackness is cause and effect of sadness and pain for the multiracial African American figure.” The last two chapters then argue that for the exceptional multiracial “blackness is an irrelevant entity” (6). And the first chapter sets up Joseph’s argument, not just for the new millennium mulatta, but also for the absence of the multiracial blackness that Joseph is looking for but doesn’t find—at least not in the form in which she desires it to be…

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“I am on the Coloured Side”: The Roles of the White Suitor and the Black Mother in the Tragic Mulatta Narrative

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-27 19:56Z by Steven

“I am on the Coloured Side”: The Roles of the White Suitor and the Black Mother in the Tragic Mulatta Narrative

University of Massachusetts at Amherst
2013

Shannon D. Luders Manuel

What I propose to add to the already established dialogue regarding the tragic mulatta narrative is an investigation into the commonalities of the genre’s endings, as well as to assert that the tragic mulatta genre is present even at the turn of the 21st century with such works as Danzy Senna’s Caucasia. While my investigation by no means covers an exhaustive list of tragic mulatta narratives, the readings provide an overview of the ways in which the narrative has both evolved over time and stayed consistent during the antebellum, post-bellum, Harlem Renaissance, and the present day. I present each author as both building from previous authors’ works and as limited to the time period in which he or she pens the novel(s).

The tragic mulatta of the post-bellum rejected white male suitors as a larger and more crucial rejection of sexual slavery and depravity, as well as attempting to shield the suitors from experiencing rejection from their own white contemporaries, as Angela does at the end of Plum Bun: “But I want you to know that from now on, so far as sides are concerned, I am on the coloured side. And I don’t want you to come over on that side” (373). However, the tragic mulattas continue to reject white male suitors even into the 21st century, and I assert that this repetition is limiting both to the characters themselves and to the narrative lives of contemporary mulatta readers. I further assert that the genre continues to pair rejection of the white male suitor with a reappropriation of true “blackness” and maternal domesticity. Through observing the tragic mulatta’s need to gain identity and sense of place through her darker mother or sister and the rejection of a white male suitor, tragic mulatta scholars—as well as critical race theorists in general—become more aware of the unique position the genre holds in identity formation as seen through what I believe are critical fictional texts for an interracial nation.

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The Black, British Atlantic: Blackness in Victorian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-10-27 18:18Z by Steven

The Black, British Atlantic: Blackness in Victorian Literature

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2014

Donghee Om

My dissertation is about transnational aspects of the Victorian era from the vantage point of what Paul Gilroy described more than two decades ago as the “black Atlantic.” Looking at various ways in which the black Atlantic was at times a British Atlantic, my dissertation aims to complicate a flow of discussion that Gilroy’s Americanist successors have interpreted largely in light of U.S. slavery and its discursive contexts. Specifically, I explore how some nineteenth-century British authors such as Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Seacole, and Wilkie Collins rejected popular notions of blackness as a racial marker of African slavery with its implied negative qualities. Instead, their works convey a different idea about blackness as a pliable marker of cultural agency that not only constitutes a part of English culture, but is performed by people regardless of racial affiliation. This notion of blackness as performative signifier goes beyond the slavery metaphor in Victorian literature to frame an interpretive paradigm that allows us to read blackness in broader socio-political contexts.

As I show how canonical and non-canonical nineteenth-century British literature used various kinds of black performativity to undo essentialist notions of blackness, race, and identity itself, I demonstrate the integral status of blackness in Victorian literature. This in turn points to nineteenth-century English culture not as an isolated entity that imposed itself on Africans and on slave-owning colonies of the British Empire, but as participant in a larger cultural network called the black Atlantic. The black Atlantic thus invites us to revise British literature and culture by questioning the assumed homogeneity of white-centrism and even the stability of whiteness itself as foundational for English identity.

In the first chapter, I look at how Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) and Persuasion (1818) engage blackness without featuring a single black or mixed-race character. Reading this absence as literary strategy, I argue that the two novels reject the popular view of blackness as too restrictively applied to oppression and marginalization, and associate it instead with women’s autonomy and social participation in an era of heightened debate over slavery following the 1807 Slave Trade Act. Here blackness comes to represent an ethically viable form of women’s autonomy that doesn’t necessarily unsettle the established social order even as it challenges the mercantile logic of sexual hierarchy represented by the corrupt marriage market. In fact, by validating women’s autonomy in the context of middle-class ethics, Austen suggests that such autonomy is a prerequisite of social stability.

Chapter two explores how Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s three antislavery poems—“The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” (1847/1848), “Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave” (1850), and “A Curse for a Nation” (1855/1866)—extend beyond the issue of American slavery to address British racism. Representing blackness as a signifier of artistic creativity, the poems aesthetically challenge essentialist notions of black inferiority in a mid-Victorian society troubled by post-abolition economic decline and colonial unrest in the British West Indies. EBB’s antislavery poems thus work to liberate blackness from the chains of racial essentialism and draw on black performativity to expand the language of the poet’s social criticism.

Chapter three investigates Mary Seacole’s performative identity in her travel narrative, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). Knowing her Victorian readers will be predisposed to read her mixed-race body as a marker of otherness, Seacole plays with their belief in ways that de-essentialize race: first, she disrupts whiteness as a racial signifier ontologically grounded in skin color by portraying her successful performance of the idealized English mother in the Crimea. Seacole then represents her physical “blackness” as a marker of life-saving hybrid medicine, a cultural signifier that revises racist notions of identity. In the process, she exposes Englishness as an unstable marker of identity that can be performed by people of different races.

Chapter four considers how Wilkie Collins problematizes binaristic notions of race in Armadale (1866), Miss or Mrs? (1873), and The Guilty River (1886). Collins’s radical reevaluations of racial others vis-à-vis Englishness and Britishness come at a time when a series of colonial uprisings like the Indian “Mutiny” and the Morant Bay rebellion exacerbated the growing acceptance of permanent racial hierarchies (as opposed to the older notion of eventual human universality). Armadale emphasizes blackness as a marker of sympathy—the essential element of English morality seldom seen in the author’s time. Affirming blackness as the moral essence of Englishness, Miss or Mrs? and The Guilty River reflect Collins’s growing frustration with the way a kind of binaristic thinking he challenged in Armadale continued to thrive in English society. These texts ultimately call for understanding English identity as an ongoing expression of inter-racial, inter-cultural reciprocity.

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