Join us for a dissertation workshop with
PhD candidate in English Language and Literature
Flappers with Philosophies: Gender, Race, and Narrative in the Early 20th Century
Thursday, April 14th, 12 – 2pm
Angell Hall 3184
RSVP here to receive access to the chapter.
Lunch will be served!
In my dissertation, “Flappers with Philosophies: Gender, Race, and Narrative in the Early 20th Century,” I look at the ways in which female minds are represented in literature at the beginning of the 20th century. In particular, I study how experiments in the literary representation of female minds reflect and rework embedded assumptions about things like feminine language, women’s narrative and personal authority, and the relationship between self- narration, representation, and experience.
For the workshop, I am going to share several sections from a chapter called “Feminine Sentences: Gender, Race, and Structuring Narrative Judgment in Nella Larsen’s Passing.” In scholarship about Passing critics describe Irene Redfield, one of the main characters of the novella, as “myopic,” “the classic unreliable narrator.” Irene’s unreliability is often taken as a given, and in part this is probably because Passing self-consciously raises the issue of Irene’s “obviously unreliable” narration. In this chapter, I argue that Passing thematizes unreliable narration, and in doing so, makes visible the ways in which unreliability, when tied to particular narrative bodies, is inextricable from the politics of narrative authority inscribed on gendered and raced bodies. In this novella, narratives of black female characters become objects of scrutiny. The stories they tell about their own sense of self and desire, stories that reflect critical means for navigating complicated identities and precarious racial and social atmospheres, are constantly being surveiled and judged. And, in the end, seeing the narrative and linguistic signs of that judgment, and being attentive to when they are motivated by extratextual (rather than intratextual) information, suggests the subtle ways in which prejudice plays out in the reception of narrative structures and linguistic expression.
We hope to see you there!