By Gayle Wald
As W. E. B. DuBois famously prophesied within the Souls of Black people, the fiction of the colour line has been of pressing main issue in defining a definite twentieth-century U.S. racial ''order.'' but the very arbitrariness of this line additionally supplies upward thrust to possibilities for racial ''passing,'' a tradition wherein topics acceptable the phrases of racial discourse. To erode race's authority, Gayle Wald argues, we needs to know how race defines and but fails to symbolize id. She hence makes use of cultural narratives of passing to light up either the contradictions of race and the deployment of such contradictions for a number of wishes, pursuits, and wishes.
Wald starts off her examining of twentieth-century passing narratives via studying works via African American writers James Weldon Johnson, Jessie Fauset, and Nella Larsen, exhibiting how they use the ''passing plot'' to discover the negotiation of id, organisation, and freedom in the context in their protagonists' constrained offerings. She then examines the 1946 autobiography relatively the Blues, which information the transformation of Milton Mesirow, middle-class son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, into Mezz Mezzrow, jazz musician and self-described ''voluntary Negro.'' Turning to the 1949 movies Pinky and
Lost limitations, which think African American citizenship inside of class-specific protocols of race and gender, she interrogates the advanced illustration of racial passing in a visible medium. Her research of ''post-passing'' testimonials in postwar African American magazines, which strove to foster black consumerism whereas developing ''positive'' photos of black fulfillment and affluence within the postwar years, makes a speciality of overlooked texts in the documents of black pop culture. eventually, after a glance at liberal contradictions of John Howard Griffin's 1961 auto-ethnography Black Like Me, Wald concludes with an epilogue that considers the assumption of passing within the context of the hot discourse of ''color blindness.''
Wald's research of the ethical, political, and theoretical dimensions of racial passing makes Crossing the road very important studying as we process the twenty-first century. Her attractive and dynamic e-book will be of specific curiosity to students of yankee reviews, African American stories, cultural experiences, and literary feedback.
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Additional info for Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture
14 17:19 DST:0 Introduction tributions of black male soldiers to mobilize opposition to racial segregation. Although both ﬁlms capitalize on the spectacle of passing to promote liberal narratives of political and social inclusivity that are consistent with a postwar Hollywood political agenda regarding questions of racial integration, both also establish passing as the justiﬁcation, in retrospect, for further disciplining of the racially deﬁned subject in the name of national interests. Moreover, in both ﬁlms, the embrace of integrationist ideals is undermined by the use of white actors to play the roles of the black characters who pass—a practice that, while conventional, also underscores the ﬁlm industry’s persistent reluctance to integrate its own labor force.
As this study suggests, Joplin’s social location as a gendered subject is at least as important as her ‘‘whiteness’’ in shaping the terms of her cultural expression. 14 17:19 DST:0 PA S S I N G F O R W H I T E , PA S S I N G F O R B L A C K Just as Joplin’s desire to pass is inseparable from the context that produces it, so in the following chapters my readings proceed from an assumption of passing as a historically and socially constructed practice shaped by the exigencies of Jim Crow and by the binary organization of racial discourse.
Reading the ‘‘mulatto’’ as ‘‘a narrative ﬁgure’’ who serves as both ‘‘a vehicle for an exploration of the relationship between the races and, at the same time, an expression of the relationship between the races,’’ Carby argues that this ﬁgure ‘‘should be understood and analyzed as a narrative device of mediation’’ (). Accordingly, she posits racial passing as a useful ‘‘narrative mechanism’’: a means of literary representation that enabled black women writers to transgress the boundaries that delimited the ‘‘proper sphere’’ of their storytelling ().
Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture by Gayle Wald