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Passing, Performance, and Perversity: Rewriting Bodies in
the Works of Lawrence Hill, Shani Mootoo, and Danzy Senna

Natalie Wall (University of Calgary)

Abstract:
This paper examines the function of passing in the works of Lawrence Hill, Shani Mootoo, and Danzy Senna. It traces the historical use of the term passing, following its development from a static conception of the black person passing for white to a theoretical practice of acting out any/every race, in order to open the term up and explore why passing is considered perverse by so many and enlightened by a few. Passing, the essay suggests, exposes the dual nature of race a construct that is arbitrary and fictional but which also possesses immense social and material power. Finally, by juxtaposing the works of these three authors, the essay argues for a conception of passing as an intersectional phenomenon, defined not only by race but also by its interactions with class, gender, and sexuality.
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ISSN 1753-5794