American mixed-race literature: Cultural history, precursors, identities, and forms of expression

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Purdue University

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on recent instances of mixed race literature in American culture such as Danzy Senna's novel Caucasia, Rebecca Walker's Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self , and Kip Fulbeck's Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography . This dissertation suggests that these mixed race literary texts, as well as the multiracial experiences, sensibilities, themes, and expressions communicated therein, differ from traditional conceptions and descriptions of race and mixed race in American society, history, and literature that are based on the logic of the binary racial system. Mixed race literature attempts to phrase and communicate suppressed, distorted, and/or neglected multiracial experiences, sensibilities, and possibilities. Mixed race literature is also coextensive with the emergence of the multiracial social formation and movement in the post-civil rights era. “Precursors” to mixed race literature fall short in their attempt to phrase and to communicate complexities and experiences of mixed race lived existence. I read lean Toomer's Cane as one of the most significant precursors to mixed race literature in American literature. Mixed race literature also differs from “mixed race in American literature” insofar as the later, in the presentation of mixed race characters and themes, both relies on and validates the categorical, hierarchical, and dichotomous logic of the binary racial system. Notable examples in the canon of American and American Ethnic literature are William Faulkner and Tony Morrison who, from a mixed race perspective, extend and promote in their texts the suppression and distortion of multiracial complexities, possibilities, and lived realities in the service of the binary racial system. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Major Professor: Arkady Plotnitsky, Purdue University.

Subject Area

American Studies|Literature, American|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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