Passing and the Fictions of Identity / Edition 1

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Overview

Passing refers to the process whereby a person of one race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation adopts the guise of another. Historically, this has often involved black slaves passing as white in order to gain their freedom. More generally, it has served as a way for women and people of color to access male or white privilege. In their examination of this practice of crossing boundaries, the contributors to this volume offer a unique perspective for studying the construction and meaning of personal and cultural identities.
These essays consider a wide range of texts and moments from colonial times to the present that raise significant questions about the political motivations inherent in the origins and maintenance of identity categories and boundaries. Through discussions of such literary works as Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, The Autobiography of an Ex–Coloured Man, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Hidden Hand, Black Like Me, and Giovanni’s Room, the authors examine issues of power and privilege and ways in which passing might challenge the often rigid structures of identity politics. Their interrogation of the semiotics of behavior, dress, language, and the body itself contributes significantly to an understanding of national, racial, gender, and sexual identity in American literature and culture.
Contextualizing and building on the theoretical work of such scholars as Judith Butler, Diana Fuss, Marjorie Garber, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Passing and the Fictions of Identity will be of value to students and scholars working in the areas of race, gender, and identity theory, as well as U.S. history and literature.

Contributors. Martha Cutter, Katharine Nicholson Ings, Samira Kawash, Adrian Piper, Valerie Rohy, Marion Rust, Julia Stern, Gayle Wald, Ellen M. Weinauer, Elizabeth Young

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822317647
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1996
  • Series: New Americanists Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elaine K. Ginsberg is Professor of English at West Virginia University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Politics of Passing 1
I Passing to Freedom 19
The Subaltern as Imperialist: Speaking of Olaudah Equiano 21
"A Most Respectable Looking Gentleman": Passing, Possession, and Transgression in Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom 37
II The (Re)Construction of Race 57
The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man: (Passing for) Black Passing for White 59
Sliding Significations: Passing as a Narrative and Textual Strategy in Nella Larsen's Fiction 75
III Blackness and the White Imagination 101
Spanish Masquerade and the Drama of Racial Indentity in Uncle Tom's Cabin 103
Blackness and the Literary Imagination: Uncovering The Hidden Hand 131
"A Most Disagreeable Mirror": Reflections on White Identity in Black Like Me 151
IV Creating the Self 179
Confederate Counterfeit: The Case of the Cross-Dressed Civil War Soldier 181
Displacing Desire: Passing, Nostalgia, and Giovanni's Room 218
Passing for White, Passing for Black 234
Works Cited 271
Index 285
Contributors 297
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