English 39695-001 ST: Racial Crossings

English 39695-001 ST: Racial Crossings

Kent State University

Martha Cutter, Associate Professor of English

This course will examine literary and cultural treatments of individuals, authors, and characters who cross from one race to another, and sometimes also from one gender to another. This crossing may be metaphorical—for example, a white writer may attempt to write from the point of view of an African American character or a Native American character may try to “transcend” his or her race through various means. This crossing may also be actual—someone who is white may “pass” for black, or someone who is black may “pass” for white. We will look at novels, short stories, poems and films as cultural texts that depict racial crossing and passing. We will ask what these texts tell us about the way race is constructed and configured in society, culture, history, and the law. We will also attempt to understand how artists both assist and resist social and cultural constructions of the meaning of “race.” Does racial crossing fundamentally undermine or stabilize the meaning of “race”?

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