Race Passing

Race Passing

by Kathleen Pfeiffer
     
 

"In the literature of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America, black characters who pass for white embody a paradox. By virtue of the "one drop" rule that long governed the nation's race relations, they are legally black. Yet the color of their skin makes them visibly - and therefore socially - white." In this book, Kathleen Pfeiffer explores the… See more details below

Overview

"In the literature of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America, black characters who pass for white embody a paradox. By virtue of the "one drop" rule that long governed the nation's race relations, they are legally black. Yet the color of their skin makes them visibly - and therefore socially - white." In this book, Kathleen Pfeiffer explores the implications of this dilemma by analyzing its treatment in the fiction of six writers: William Dean Howells, Frances E. Harper, Jean Toomer, James Weldon Johnson, Jessie Fauset, and Nella Larsen. Although passing for white has sometimes been viewed as an expression of racial self-hatred or disloyalty, Pfeiffer argues that the literary evidence is much more ambiguous than that. Rather than indicating a denial of "blackness" or co-optation by the dominant white culture, passing can be viewed as a form of self-determination consistent with American individualism. In their desire to manipulate personal identity in order to achieve social acceptance and upward mobility, light-skilled blacks who pass for white are no different from those Americans who reinvent themselves in terms of class, religion, or family history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558493773
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
02/26/2003
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
1470L (what's this?)

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Table of Contents

Introduction1
1Passing and the Sentimental Novel18
2Passing and the Rise of Realism39
3Passing and the Fictional Autobiography58
4Passing and the "Fast Yellowing Manuscripts"82
5Passing and the Rise of Mass Culture107
6Reading Passing through a Different Lens128
Epilogue: Passing in the Present147
Acknowledgments153
Works Cited155
Index163

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