race

Lynching Modernism: Ulysses, America, and the Negro Minstrel Abroad

At one point late in Ulysses, while referencing the fictionalized account of a graphic, gruesome American lynching of a black man, a character in "Cyclops” refers to the ill-fated mob victim as a  "Sambo.” Sambo is a plantation-era racial term that, by the early twentieth century, had become an enduring American stage archetype, often performed in blackface, that spun entertainment from stereotypes about black Americans as provincial and lazy. By naming his lynching victim "Sambo,” Joyce marks the lynching as a theatrical phenomenon, spectacularly American.

Looking With Images: Chinese Diasporic Worldmaking Beyond the Frame

For someone who thinks a lot about photography, I have decidedly mixed feelings about being seen. In Canada, where I grew up and once again live, the state’s term for non-Indigenous racialized people like me is “visible minority.” The hypervisibility of racialization often confers a kind of invisibility, however. As a cis scholar of mixed Chinese descent, I am persistently misrecognized by other members of the institutions through which I move, mistaken for a student, staff member, a different Asian woman.

Venice to India and Back: Masked Foundations of Adrian Stokes’s Aesthetics of Whiteness

“Venice,” writes Adrian Durham Stokes at the opening of his 1945 study of the city, “excels in blackness and whiteness; water brings commerce between them.”[1] This is a confident blasé opening gambit characteristic of the period and of this Faber and Faber contracted writer earlier heralded by Ezra Pound as one of the “only important writers” living.[2] Venice bothered Stokes throughout his writing and viewing life, yet Venice’s, and other, problematic whitenesses disappe

Poetics and Pedagogy of Whiteness at a Distance: Reflections from Korea

In my recent undergraduate seminar on whiteness in modern American literature at a university in Seoul, most students, aware of America’s history of racial violence and repulsed by Trumpian rhetoric, initially assumed “whiteness” to be something that operates openly and visibly, a deliberate strategy to support white supremacist ends. At a distance, within a largely racially homogenous society, this marked, legible understanding of whiteness impeded students’ recognition of its precarity and evasions, its unacknowledged investments in manufacturing innocence and coherence.

Trifles? From Susan Glaspell to Zitkála-Šá, by Way of a Norton Anthology

The cross-cultural scholarship of Aileen Moreton-Robinson, a Geonpul woman, in The White Possessive chronicles “a process of perpetual Indigenous dispossession” that reifies both the white property-owning subject and its attendant formation, the white settler nation-state; such white subjects and states differ, historically and geographically, in form and in practice, yet the iteration of dispossession is structurally essential to these formations of whiteness.[1] In the introduction to the twentieth anniversary edition of

Jessie Fauset’s Plum Bun, Whiteness, and the Color Line: A Novel of Morality Without a Moral

This is the shocked retort of Angela, the very light-skinned protagonist in Jessie Fauset’s 1929 novel, Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral, when Angela’s racial heritage is publicly revealed to her close friend, a new girl at their school. By denying responsibility for policing so-called racial boundaries, Angela challenges a system of morality structured by white supremacy and embedded in histories of Atlantic American modernity. According to this (im)moral system, Angela is required to divulge her racial heritage to protect her hitherto unsuspecting white friend. To pass, even unintentionally, is, in this context, to lie. Angela and the new girl, Mary Hastings, stand on opposing sides of a yawning chasm of cultural silence about the significance of whiteness as it exists between them in their time period, within which whiteness wields an all-encompassing power.

Surplus Women and Trafficked Women: Tropes of White Womanhood

Amid a wave of academic writing about whiteness at the end of the twentieth century, Richard Dyer’s White (1997) helped to make visible the artificial construction of whiteness as a racial imaginary.

Peeling Back Whiteness: Neurasthenia in Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove

It was not Milly’s unpacified state, in short, that now troubled her—though certainly, as Europe was the great American sedative, the failure was to some extent to be noted.”[1]

Gertrude Stein’s White Wines: Performing (Off) Whiteness, (Un)Voicing Racist Language

This discussion reflects on the politics of whiteness in relation to Jewishness by comparing performances of a play by Gertrude Stein that re-inscribes racist language but at the same time points up performative, non-essentialist, habitual understandings of race. It refracts these politics through a Poet's Theatre performance of Stein’s play in the context of other performance events around Habits of Assembly by Corin Sworn, a contemporary art work exhibited at the 2019 Edinburgh Art Festival.