Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion

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Passing for what you are not—whether it is mulattos passing as white, Jews passing as Christian, or drag queens passing as women—can be a method of protection or self-defense. But it can also be a uniquely pleasurable experience, one that trades on the erotics of secrecy and revelation. It is precisely passing's radical playfulness, the way it asks us to reconsider our assumptions and forces our most cherished fantasies of identity to self-destruct, that is centrally addressed in Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion.

Identity in Western culture is largely structured around visibility, whether in the service of science (Victorian physiognomy), psychoanalysis (Lacan's mirror stage), or philosophy (the Panopticon). As such, it is charged with anxieties regarding classification and social demarcation. Passing wreaks havoc with accepted systems of social recognition and cultural intelligibility, blurring the carefully-marked lines of race, gender, and class.

Bringing together theories of passing across a host of disciplines—from critical race theory and lesbian and gay studies, to literary theory and religious studies—Passing complicates our current understanding of the visual and categories of identity.

Contributors: Michael Bronski, Karen McCarthy Brown, Bradley Epps, Judith Halberstam, Peter Hitchcock, Daniel Itzkovitz, Patrick O'Malley, Miriam Peskowitz, María C. Sánchez Linda Schlossberg, and Sharon Ullman.

Author Biography: María C. Sánchez is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. Linda Schlossberg is Lecturer and Assistant Director of Studies for the Women's Studies Program at Harvard University.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In Passing: Identity and Interpretations in Sexuality, Race, and Religion, editors Maria Carla Sanchez and Linda Schlossberg have assembled relevant cultural criticism by 10 scholars."

-Publishers Weekly

"Passing is a very useful contribution to the literature both on sexualities and the politics of identity generally...the analyses in Passing throw light not only on minority identities but also on more mainstream ones."

-Sexualities 6(1)

"Wigs, men's suits, and shocking posthumous disclosures: such are some stereotypical elements of passing lives. But this rich and stimulating collection maps a more varied territory of passing—with its invisible differences, sly performances, and ‘chameleonic blood,' its compelled betrayals, fears of infiltration, and deeply desired poses. Passing details the terrors of such border crossings and the threats they pose to ways of knowing, indeed to identity itself."

-Carolyn Dinshaw,Director of The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU

Publishers Weekly
Judith Halberstam takes issue with transgender biography that "recasts the act of passing as deception, dishonesty, and fraud." Brad Epps explores the immigrant experience of interrogation upon crossing borders. Sharon Ullman looks at the early 20th-century phenomenon of male impersonation in relation to the "`New Woman'" campaign of first-wave feminists. In Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion, editors Maria Carla Sanchez and Linda Schlossberg have assembled relevant cultural criticism by 10 scholars. Familiar names like Brandon Teena, George Orwell and Charles Atlas are discussed alongside less known figures like early Mexican-American author Mar!a Amparo Ruiz de Burton and a popular vaudevillian of indeterminate gender named Biscauex. (Nov. 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814781227
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Series: Sexual Cultures Series
  • Pages: 283
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Maria C. Sanchez is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Rites of Passing 1
1 Telling Tales: Brandon Teena, Billy Tipton, and Transgender Biography 13
2 Passing Like Me: Jewish Chameleonism and the Politics of Race 38
3 Whiteness Invisible: Early Mexican American Writing and the Color of Literary History 64
4 Passing Lines: Immigration and the Performance of American Identity 92
5 From Victorian Parlor to Physique Pictorial: The Male Nude and Homosexual Identity 135
6 Slumming 160
7 The "Self-Made Man": Male Impersonation and the New Woman 187
8 Mimesis in the Face of Fear: Femme Queens, Butch Queens, and Gender Play in the Houses of Greater Newark 208
9 "The Church's Closet": Confessionals, Victorian Catholicism, and the Crisis of Identification 228
10 Moses' Wilderness Tabernacle 260
Contributors 273
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