In the Middle, In Between: Cultural Hybridity, Community Rejection, and the Destabilization of Race in Percival Everett’s “Erasure”, Adam Mansbach’s “Angry Black White Boy”, and Danzy Senna’s “Caucasia”

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2011-09-01 23:54Z by Steven

In the Middle, In Between: Cultural Hybridity, Community Rejection, and the Destabilization of Race in Percival Everett’s “Erasure”, Adam Mansbach’s “Angry Black White Boy”, and Danzy Senna’s “Caucasia”

Howard University
84 pages
Publication Number: AAT 1495397
ISBN: 9781124728568

Laura R. Perez

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Howard University In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the Department of English

Cultural hybridity, a term first introduced by post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha, has been a shifting and difficult to define concept within academic discourse. My thesis will focus on cultural hybridity as the embodiment of a pluralistic identity that encompasses the characteristics or attributes of more than one culture or race. I will examine three contemporary literary works of racial satire—Percival Everett’s Erasure, Adam Mansbach’s Angry Black White Boy, and Danzy Senna’s Caucasiathat present culturally hybrid protagonists and explore the ways in which these protagonists are utilized to destabilize race. Furthermore, I will demonstrate the tensions that this destabilization creates through community rejections of each protagonists’ hybridity – tensions that become inherent to hybridity itself.

My exploration will include an analysis of the protagonists’ hybridity—the ways in which they do not fit into the existing notions of what blackness or whiteness is—and how this hybridity is marginalized by their communities. Following this, I will explicate the protagonists’ responses to their marginalization—their creation of dual identities or alter egos and the racial/psychoanalytic significance of this process. I will draw upon post-colonial and critical race theory writings, as well as Freudian and Lacanian theory, to frame my analysis. But most importantly, I will draw upon the work of scholars—including Marwan Kraidy, Jopi Nyman, Sabrine Broeck, Pnina Werbner, Peter Burke, and Robert Young—to theorize hybridity within my analysis.

Finally, I will examine the novels’ conclusions, during which the protagonists’ dual identities are forcefully merged, and demonstrate the lack of resolution that this merging creates. This examination will reveal that the community rejections of hybridity in each novel are, in themselves, impossible to mediate. Thus, I will prove that each protagonist’s hybrid positioning not only destabilizes race by challenging the concreteness of racial categorizations, but that this positioning, and the community’s response to it, also demonstrates the tensions inherent to hybridity itself. In this way, each text undermines the black-white binary, while also affirming the tensions that result from not willfully engaging in it.

Table of Contents

  • Thesis Committee
    • Background to the Problem
    • Statement of the Problem
    • Review of Literature
    • Theoretical Framework and Methodology
    • Plan of Research
    • Definition of Terms

Purchase the dissertation here.

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Passing into the present: Contemporary American Fiction of Racial and Gender Passing

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2011-06-24 04:58Z by Steven

Passing into the present: Contemporary American Fiction of Racial and Gender Passing

Manchester University Press
256 pages
216 x 138mm
Hardback ISBN: 9780719082290

Sinéad Moynihan, Senior Lecturer in English
University of Exeter

  • Discusses wider themes including class, gender, sexuality, and religious identity
  • Focuses on Philip Roth’s ‘The Human Stain‘, Louise Eridich’s ‘Tracks’ Percival Everett’s ‘Erasure’ and Paul Beatty’s ‘The White Boy Shuffle
  • Looks at a wide rage of contemporary writers that represent the theme of gender and racial passing

This book is the first full-length study of contemporary American fiction of ‘passing’. Its takes as its point of departure the return of racial and gender passing in the 1990s in order to make claims about wider trends in contemporary American fiction.

The book accounts for the return of tropes of passing in fiction by Philip Roth, Percival Everett, Louise Erdrich, Danzy Senna, Jeffrey Eugenides and Paul Beatty. These writers are attracted to the trope because passing narratives have always foregrounded the notion of textuality in relation to the (il)legibility of black subjects passing as white. The central argument of this book, then, is that contemporary narratives of passing are concerned with articulating and unpacking an analogy between passing and authorship.

Aimed at students and researchers, it promises to inaugurate dialogue on the relationships between identity, postmodernism and authorship in contemporary American fiction.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction: ‘Passing’ into the present: passing narratives then and now
  • 2. Living parchments, human documents: passing, racial identity and the literary marketplace
  • 3. The way of the cross(-dresser): Catholicism, gender and race in two novels by Louise Erdrich
  • 4. (W)Rites-of-passing: shifting racial and gender identities in Caucasia and Middlesex
  • 5. Bodies / texts: passing and writing in The White Boy Shuffle and The Human Stain
  • 6. Conclusion: ‘Passing’ fads?: recent controversies of authenticity and authorship
  • Bibliography
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