Yale French Studies, Number 128: Revisiting Marie Vieux Chauvet: Paradoxes of the Postcolonial Feminine

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2016-02-06 19:38Z by Steven

Yale French Studies, Number 128: Revisiting Marie Vieux Chauvet: Paradoxes of the Postcolonial Feminine

Yale University Press
168 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Paper ISBN: 9780300214192

Edited by:

Kaiama L. Glover, Associate Professor of French
Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, New York

Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken, Assistant Professor of Caribbean and Postcolonial Literatures in French
City College of New York

This issue considers the oeuvre of Haitian writer Marie Vieux-Chauvet (1916–1973) as a prism through which to examine individual and collective subject formation in the postcolonial French-writing Caribbean, the wider Afro-Americas, and beyond. While both Vieux-Chauvet and her corpus are situated in the violent space of mid-twentieth century Haiti, her work articulates the obstacles to claiming legitimized human existence on a global scale. The contributors to this interdisciplinary volume examine Vieux-Chauvet’s positioning within the Haitian public sphere, as well as her broader significance to understanding gendered and racialized postcolonial subjectivities in the twenty-first century.

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Saving the Race: Conversations on Du Bois from a Collective Memoir of Souls

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-06 19:18Z by Steven

Saving the Race: Conversations on Du Bois from a Collective Memoir of Souls

Harlem Moon (an imprint of Broadway Books)
224 pages

Edited by: Rebecca Carroll

W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk is one of the most influential books ever published in this country. In it, Du Bois wrote that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” a prophecy that is as fresh and poignant today as when it first appeared in print in 1903. Now, one hundred years after The Souls of Black Folk was first published, Saving the Race reexamines the legacy of Du Bois and his “color line” prophecy from a modern viewpoint. The author, Rebecca Carroll, a biracial woman who was reared by white parents, not only provides her own personal perspective, but she invites eighteen well-known African Americans to share their ideas and opinions about what Du Bois’s classic text means today.

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Infiltrating the colonial city through the imaginaries of Metissage: Saint-Louis (Senegal), Saint-Pierre (Martinique) and Jeremie (Haiti)

Posted in Africa, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-02-06 00:46Z by Steven

Infiltrating the colonial city through the imaginaries of Metissage: Saint-Louis (Senegal), Saint-Pierre (Martinique) and Jeremie (Haiti)

University of Iowa
August 2015
281 pages

Avonelle Pauline Remy, Assistant Professor of French
Hope College, Holland, Michigan

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in French and Francophone World Studies in the Graduate College of The University of Iowa

In this dissertation, I investigate the ways in which the phenomenon of racial and cultural hybridity inform and alter the social, political and cultural fabric of three creole cities of significant colonial influence, namely Saint-Louis of Senegal, Saint-Pierre of Martinique and Jérémie of Haiti during and after the colonial era. In particular, I examine the relevance of the French colonial city not only as a nexus of relational complexity but also as an ambiguous center of attraction and exclusion where multiple identities are created and recreated according to the agendas that influence these constructions. In order to articulate the main hypotheses of my thesis, I explore the key historical and social catalysts that have led to the emergence of Saint-Louis, Saint-Pierre and Jérémie as original creole cities.

Through the critical analyses of contemporary literatures from Senegal, Martinique and Haiti by Fanon, Sadji, Boilat, Mandeleau, Confiant, Chamoiseau, Salavina, Bonneville, Moreau de Saint-Méry, Desquiron, and Chauvet and films by Deslauriers and Palcy, I illustrate the dynamics of creolization within the context of the French colonial city. I argue that the city engenders new narratives and interpretations of métissage that scholars have often associated with the enclosed space of the plantation.

My dissertation intends to prove that the three French colonial cities of Saint-Louis, Saint-Pierre and Jérémie offer distinct interpretations and practices of processes of cultural and ethnic métissage. I propose that a correlation albeit a dialectical one, exists between the development of the French colonial city and the emergence of the mulattoes as a distinct class, conscious of its economic, sexual and political agency. I suggest that the French colonial city, represents both a starting point and a space of continuity that permits new forms of ethnic and cultural admixture. The articulation of such mixtures is made evident by the strategic positioning and creative agency of the mulatto class within the colonial city.

The phenomenon of métissage is certainly not a novel subject as evidenced by the plethora of theories and studies advanced by scholars and intellectuals. My research is thus part of an existing critical literary corpus in Postcolonial and Francophone Studies and is inscribed within the theoretical framework of Creolization. My research observes from a historical, comparative and literary perspective, metis presence and consciousness in three specific spaces where colonial authority has been imposed, challenged, resisted and even overpowered (in the case of Haiti). My study therefore analyses the creative agency articulated by the metis ethnoclass in the colonial city and counters the claim of a passive assimilated group.

As an in-between group, mulatto’s access to social, economic and political upward mobility are impeded by their ambiguous positioning within the larger community. Consequently, they resort to unconventional means that I refer to rather as creative ingeniousness in order to survive. Scholars usually focus on these “unconventional” practices as immoral rather than as strategies of self-reinvention and revalorization. As a result, representations of cultural and ethnic interconnections and hybridity are often projected in fragmentary ways. The figure of the metis women for example is overly represented in studies on métissage while metis men receive very little attention. My thesis thus intends to decenter narratives on métissage from the women and implicate equally the creative agency of metis males.

My thesis expands on the complexities that inform processes of métissage during pre-colonial Saint-Louis in the early seventeenth century, Saint-Pierre from the period 1870-1902 and Jérémie during the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier. It examines further the city as a space that engenders new narratives and interpretations of the processes of creolization. Processes of métissage or creolization have often been described as the results of violent encounters that were colonial and imperial. Moreover, these clashes were inscribed within the enclosed space of the plantation.

The city, representation of European pride and greed is an ambiguous space that attracts even as it excludes. Projected as an active commercial, economic and cultural hub, the city is soon engulfed by mass emigration. That site where the European image and culture is imposed, quickly evolves into a complex and chaotic web of human and material interaction giving rise to a complex creolized atmosphere. I propose that practices of métissage in the city are distinct from those generated in the belly of the slave ships, in the trading houses of Sub-Saharan Africa and on the sugar plantations of the French Antilles.

I conclude with a look at the present context of métissage, I rethink the significance of racial and cultural hybridity in relation to contemporary cultural and social theories such as creolization, creoleness, and transculturation in articulating, interpreting and decoding a world in constant transformation.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Dangerous Creole Liaisons: Sexuality and Nationalism in French Caribbean Discourses from 1806 to 1897

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Women on 2016-02-04 02:45Z by Steven

Dangerous Creole Liaisons: Sexuality and Nationalism in French Caribbean Discourses from 1806 to 1897

Liverpool University Press
224 Pages
239 x 163mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781781383018

Jacqueline Couti, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies
University of Kentucky

Dangerous Creole Liaisons explores a French Caribbean context to broaden discussions of sexuality, nation building, and colonialism in the Americas. Couti examines how white Creoles perceived their contributions to French nationalism through the course of the nineteenth century as they portrayed sexualized female bodies and sexual and racial difference to advance their political ideologies. Questioning their exhilarating exoticism and titillating eroticism underscores the ambiguous celebration of the Creole woman as both seductress and an object of lust. She embodies the Caribbean as a space of desire and a political site of contest that reflects colonial, slave and post-slave societies. The under-researched white Creole writers and non-Caribbean authors (such as Lafcadio Hearn) who traveled to and wrote about these islands offer an intriguing gendering and sexualization of colonial and nationalist discourses. Their use of the floating motif of the female body as the nation exposes a cultural cross-pollination, an intense dialogue of political identity between continental France and her Caribbean colonies. Couti suggests that this cross-pollination still persists. Eventually, representations of Creole women’s bodies (white and black) bring two competing conceptions of nationalism into play: a local, bounded, French nationalism against a transatlantic and more fluid nationalism that included the Antilles in a “greater France.”

Table of Contents

  • Introduction Chercher la femme: Traces of an Ever-Present Absence
  • 1. The (White) Female Creole Body: Bearer of Culture and Cultural Signifier
  • 2. Falling from Grace: Creole Gothic, Flawed Femininity, and The Collapse of Civilization Coda I (Re)writing History: Revival of the Declining Creole Nation and Transatlantic Ties
  • 3. Sexualizing and Darkening Black Female Bodies: Whose Imagined Community?
  • 4. Colonial Democracy and Fin de Siècle Martinique: The Third Republic and White Creole Dissent
  • Coda II Heritage and Legacies
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
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The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2016-02-03 03:32Z by Steven

The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

University of Georgia Press
248 pages
8 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4896-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-4897-1

Lisa Ze Winters, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

Exploring the geographies, genealogies, and concepts of race and gender of the African diaspora produced by the Atlantic slave trade

Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora.

Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities.

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Realist Historiography and the Legacies of Reconstruction in Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-27 20:47Z by Steven

Realist Historiography and the Legacies of Reconstruction in Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

American Literary Realism
Volume 48, Number 2, Winter 2016
pages 147-165

Peter Zogas

Charles W. Chesnutt had high hopes for his novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901). He thought that his retelling of the 1898 race riot and Democratic coup in Wilmington, N.C., was “by far the best thing I have done,” and he noted in a letter to Booker T. Washington that he thought he “may have ‘arrived’ with this book.” Chesnutt’s optimism extended to the political effects The Marrow of Tradition might have as well. The novel “is not a study in pessimism,” he noted, “for it is the writer’s belief that the forces of progress will in the end prevail, and that in time a remedy may be found for every social ill.” However, it was not the success that Chesnutt had hoped for, and critics, most famously W. D. Howells, objected to its portrayal of race relations punctuated by violence and revolution.

Yet we can consider the significance of Chesnutt’s optimism and desire for progress in relation to Amy Kaplan’s analysis of realism as an encounter with the mechanisms of social change. In The Marrow of Tradition this encounter takes on a decidedly historiographic dimension. The precarious hope presented by the novel’s final line—“There’s time enough, but none to spare!”—references pressing concerns ranging from the restructuring of the local and national political systems to the enfranchisement of freed slaves, threats of racial violence, and the necessity of economic reform (718). In this way, we can read The Marrow of Tradition as intimately engaged with the legacies of Reconstruction and offering a counterpoint to Chesnutt’s more explicit treatment in his later novel The Colonel’s Dream (1905). The progress that Chesnutt anticipates ties his project of realism with the contested status of Reconstruction as a historical concept at the turn of the twentieth century. Chesnutt’s particular employment of realism creates a historiographic project that contests contemporaneously emerging narratives of Reconstruction that would play a determining role in imagining the nation’s progress into the twentieth century.

William A. Dunning and the South’s “cruel dilemma”

The era of Reconstruction was first conceptualized in historical discourse during the late 1880s and 1890s, most systematically through the work of the historian William A. Dunning. As one of a new generation of historians who followed positivistic methodologies, Dunning was deeply involved in establishing history as an academic field in the United States. He was awarded his Ph.D. by Columbia University in 1885, and he expanded his dissertation to be published as Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction in 1898 (a revised edition appeared in 1904). Like many of his peers, Dunning spent time in Berlin studying under the influence of Leopold von Ranke, and beginning in 1886 he served on the faculty of Columbia, where he taught until his death in 1922. During that time Dunning trained an influential generation of graduate students, and many of them completed their doctoral work by writing accounts of Reconstruction efforts in individual states.

Contemporary readers are quick to grasp the racial prejudice at work in the histories of Dunning and his disciples, to the extent that it is easy to lose sight of just how influential such work was throughout much of the twentieth century. It was not until after the Civil Rights era that Dunning’s basic narrative of Reconstruction as a failed project—one anchored in misguided attempts to enfranchise African Americans while simultaneously disenfranchising whites through post-war loyalty oaths—was dismantled in historical studies. But this is not to say that his pronouncements went unchallenged. As early as 1935, W. E. B. Du Bois identified the central thesis in the so-called “Columbia school”: “first, endless sympathy with the white South; second, ridicule, contempt, or silence for the Negro; third, a judicial attitude towards the North, which concludes that the North under great misapprehension did a grievous wrong, but eventually saw its mistake and retreated.” For Du Bois, Dunning’s methods clearly demonstrate the prejudiced political and racial attitudes that determine his analysis. Of Dunning’s explicit vilification of African Americans, Du Bois pointedly asks, “if the negro was admittedly sub-human, what need to waste time delving into…

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Identity and racial ambiguity in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-27 03:26Z by Steven

Identity and racial ambiguity in Danzy Senna’s Caucasia

North Carolina Central University
82 pages

Carole Bonita Montgomery

Set in 1970s Boston, Danzy Senna’s novel, Caucasia (1998) centers around biracial Birdie Lee, whose racial identity is complex as she defines and redefines herself from her youth through young adulthood. Birdie and Cole Lee are daughters of Deck, an African American college professor, and Sandy Lee, a radical activist and educator who homeschools their daughters. The younger sister, Birdie, is very light-skinned, and people commonly mistake her for white, while Cole is often perceives as solely black. The girls do not notice this distinction until external forces, people, and institutions bring it to their attention. This thesis discusses Senna’s dramatization of Birdie Lee’s struggles with her own racial identity in 1970s America. As a first-person narrator, Birdie gives voice to Americans of her generation and younger who are able to be black, white, or both. The journey towards identity is a difficult for anyone; however, Senna highlights her convoluted path as this young biracial American detours from the conventional tragic mulatto’s outcome of self-destruction. Ultimately, Birdie embraces her double heritage and her skin tone, becoming a voice for the millennial mulatto.

Order a copy of the thesis thesis here.

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Contested Identities: Racial Indeterminacy and Law in the American Novel, 1900-1942

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-27 03:14Z by Steven

Contested Identities: Racial Indeterminacy and Law in the American Novel, 1900-1942

University of Connecticut

Rebecca S. Nisetich

In Contested Identities, I chart the path of the legal and literary discourses on racial identity, codified by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision and culturally ascendant in the early decades of the twentieth century. In this period, a group of American writers produced fiction that implicitly challenged this legal and cultural discourse. My project explores the literary productions of Charles W. Chesnutt, Nella Larsen, and William Faulkner—three writers who undermine, question, and critique the legal and social practices that seek to define and contain individual identities in binary terms. Specifically, in Contested Identities I explore why Chesnutt, Larsen, and Faulkner create characters whose identities are not clearly articulated, defined, or knowable, and why they intentionally position these figures in relation to the law.

At the center of each of these texts there remains a void where racial information might be clearly articulated, defined, or corroborated, but isn’t. This enables Chesnutt, Larsen, and Faulkner to underscore an unresolved tension between what must be true and what cannot be known, a dynamic which throws into relief the maddening complexity of human experience in opposition to cut-and-dry legal and popular definitions of “race,” which operate under the assumption that blood proportions are easily known, and that specific blood proportions determine identity. I argue that it is racial indeterminacy that animates these writers’ explorations of identity, and that it is the fundamental theme that binds these characters and texts together. The law treats race as a matter of identity; my dissertation argues that the law is instead a crucial factor in the formation of the racial identity of individual characters.

Available for download here on or after 2024-05-01.

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A Romance of (Miscege)Nations: Ann Sophia Stephens’ Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter (1839, 1860)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2016-01-26 03:04Z by Steven

A Romance of (Miscege)Nations: Ann Sophia Stephens’ Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter (1839, 1860)

Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
Volume 63, Number 1, Spring 2007
pages 1-25
DOI: 10.1353/arq.2007.0000

Yu-Fang Cho, Associate Professor of English; Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

First serialized in The Ladies’ Companion in 1839 and later reprinted in 1860, Ann Sophia Stephens’ Malaeska narrates the tragic interracial union of an Indian princess and a white hunter in northeastern United States during the colonial period. By rewriting the Pocahontas legend, Malaeska allegorizes the dispossession of Native Americans at two significant historical moments in U.S. nation building: the enforcement of the Removal Act throughout the 1830s and westward expansion in the 1850s after the U.S.-Mexican War. The first version of Malaeska was serialized in a women’s magazine tailored specifically for middle- and upper-class female readers, a site of production and reception often characterized as part of the “culture of sentiment.” The second version was the first of the Beadle and Adams’s dime novel series, which often made sensational appeals to audiences across class, gender, age, profession, and ethnicity. Simultaneously inhabiting cultural spaces defined in contemporary analytical terms as mutually exclusive, Malaeska unsettles binary constructions in the study of nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture. This novel thereby enables an understanding of intersecting racial, gender, class, and cultural formations in relation to U.S. nation building.

Until recently, Malaeska has been dismissed as formulaic, superficial, conservative, and therefore unworthy of scholarly attention. In her important critical re-assessment of Stephens’ Indian tales, Paola Gemme offers an insightful overview of the relationship between the increasingly essentialist dominant racial ideologies from the 1830s to the 1860s and the growing pessimism in depictions of Native American “extinction” in Stephens’ stories. Building on the historical framework in Gemme’s overview (“Rewriting”), this essay examines the ways in which the representation of Indian-white miscegenation in Stephens’ Malaeska simultaneously engages racial ideologies, gender politics, and class formations in cross-fertilized cultural forms. By considering the differences between the 1839 version and the 1860 version, the two contexts of production and reception, and narrative elements beyond the plot, this essay suggests that Malaeska does not necessarily endorse the inevitability of Native American extinction. Rather, Malaeska mobilizes “the Indian question” to critique white supremacy and patriarchy simultaneously: it appeals to women’s shared predicaments as wives, daughters, and mothers to expose the violence of white dominance and its destructive impact on both Native Americans and whites. At the same time, this double critique is limited by its displacement of racial issues onto gender concerns as the text foregrounds women’s alliances across racial and class lines and defines womanhood in terms of the emerging white middle class. The contradiction between the dramatization of racial tensions and their ultimate displacement onto gender issues, this essay suggests, registers an articulation of normative, invisible middle-class white womanhood in the broader context of the emergence of (de)racialized women’s middle-class culture. The term “(de)racialized” highlights the ways in which normative “whiteness” operates as an invisible, “unraced,” universal construction against which all other “races” are defined and thereby racialized. The naturalization and (de)racialization of women’s middle-class culture, this essay suggests, relies on its claim to moral authority and its antithetical relationship to other cultural spheres, such as the heterogeneous cultural spaces where dime novels circulated.

The Elegy of the Vanishing American: Removal, Western Expansion, and the Consequences of the Failed Contract across Racial Lines

From the 1830s to the 1860s, conflicts between whites and Indians were a recurrent theme in cultural representations. As the enforcement of the 1830 Removal Act took place in the late 1830s, Indian tales and poems lamenting the predicament of the “vanishing American” appeared frequently in popular magazines. A generation later many Beadle and Adams dime novels also featured violent encounters between whites and Indians as the clash between white settlers and Indians continued to intensify after the removal era due to westward expansion after the U.S.-Mexican War. While the figuration of different racial others in relation to U.S. national identity varies in different periods, the Indian was particularly important in shaping the emergence of U.S. national identity, most notably perhaps in the republican era when the U.S. struggled to define itself and expanded its territory (Rogin 4). During this period, the Indian functioned as an important icon…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Jeff Chang in conversation with Adam Mansbach

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-26 02:08Z by Steven

Jeff Chang in conversation with Adam Mansbach

Kepler’s Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, California 94025-4349
Tuesday, 2015-01-26, 19:30 PST (Local Time)

It’s hard to express just how cool and important Who We Be is with words alone. Jeff seems to share this sentiment when it comes to a cultural history of the idea of racial progress because Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin.

Now you can join the conversation too: How do Americans see race now? How has that changed – and not changed – over the half-century? After eras framed by words like “multicultural” and “post-racial,” do we see each other anymore clearly? Join us for a timely discussion with journalist, music critic, and Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, Jeff Chang. He will be interviewed by the author of Go the F**k to Sleep, Adam Mansbach, to celebrate the paperback release of Who We Be.

Jeff Chang co-founded and ran the indie hip hop label, then known as SoleSides, but now known as Quannum Projects, and helped launch the careers of DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, and Lateef the Truth Speaker. The anti-apartheid and the anti-racist movement at UC Berkeley politicized Chang and he worked as a community laborer and student organizer; Chang was an organizer of the inaugural National Hip-Hop Political Convention. In 2007 Chang interviewed Barack Obama, for the cover of Vibe Magazine. He’s the author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop and has written for The Nation, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Foreign Policy, Salon, Slate, and Buzzfeed, among others.

Adam Mansbach is the author of Angry Black White Boy, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2005 and The End of the Jews (for which he won the California Book Award for fiction in 2008). Mansbach was the founding editor of the 1990s hip-hop journal Elementary. He lives in Berkeley and co-hosts a radio show, “Father Figures.”…

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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