Racial Passing: Masking Culture and Identity in America (HUM-596)

Racial Passing: Masking Culture and Identity in America (HUM-596)

San Diego State University
San Diego, California
Spring 2017

Michael Caldwell, Lecturer

New Course This Spring in Humanities!

It is a curious fact that in contemporary culture African Americans are often imitated by non-African Americans. Yet there was a time in American history when African Americans who could, chose to pass as white. What historical and social circumstances made such a choice possible? What does that choice suggest about the nature of identity: is it inherited or can we literally make of ourselves what we wish? What are the limits to self-construction? Though this course begins by looking at instances of African American passing, it moves forward to consider other assimilationist stances in American history, as well as more recent, strident efforts to resist assimilation. Throughout the course our goal will be to think hard about the factors that go into making and refining one’s identity.

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