Passing Interest

Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990-2010

Edited by Julie Cary Nerad

Subjects: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, African American Studies, Film Studies
Series: SUNY series in Multiethnic Literatures
Paperback : 9781438452289, 360 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438452272, 360 pages, July 2014

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Preface: The “Posts” of Passing
Gayle Wald
1. Introduction: The (Not So) New Face of America
Julie Cary Nerad
2. On the Margins of Movement: Passing in Three Contemporary Memoirs
Irina Negrea
3. “A Cousin to Blackness”: Race and Identity in Bliss Broyard’s One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life
Lynn Washington and Julie Cary Nerad
4. Can One Really Choose? Passing and Self-Identification at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
Jené Schoenfeld
5. Passing in Blackface: The Intimate Drama of Post-Racialism on Black. White.
Eden Osucha
6. Broke Right in Half: Passing of/in Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone
Julie Cary Nerad
7. Passing for Chicano, Passing for White: Negotiating Filipino American Identity in Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son
Amanda Page
8. Race in the Marketplace: Postmodern Passing and Ali G
Ana Cristina Mendes
9. Passing for Black, White, and Jewish: Mixed-Race Identity in Rebecca Walker and Danzy Senna
Lori Harrison-Kahan
10. Smiling Faces: Chameleon Street, Racial Passing/Performativity, and Film Blackness
Michael B. Gillespie
11. Consuming Performances: Race, Media, and the Failure of the Cultural Mulatto in Bamboozled and Erasure
Meredith McCarroll
Contributor Biographies

Explores how the trope of racial passing continues to serve as a touchstone for gauging public beliefs and anxieties about race in this multiracial era.


The first volume to focus on the trope of racial passing in novels, memoirs, television, and films published or produced between 1990 and 2010, Passing Interest takes the scholarly conversation on passing into the twenty-first century. With contributors working in the fields of African American studies, American studies, cultural studies, film studies, literature, and media studies, this book offers a rich, interdisciplinary survey of critical approaches to a broad range of contemporary passing texts. Contributors frame recent passing texts with a wide array of cultural discourses, including immigration law, the Post-Soul Aesthetic, contemporary political satire, affirmative action, the paradoxes of "colorblindness," and the rhetoric of "post-racialism." Many explore whether "one drop" of blood still governs our sense of racial identity, or to what extent contemporary American culture allows for the racially indeterminate individual. Some essays open the scholarly conversation to focus on "ethnic" passers—individuals who complicate the traditional black-white binary—while others explore the slippage between traditional racial passing and related forms of racial performance, including blackface minstrelsy and racial masquerade.

Julie Cary Nerad is Associate Professor of American Literature at Morgan State University.


"…this volume will prove useful to those in a broad spectrum of fields, including film, literature, and cultural studies … Highly recommended." — CHOICE