Individual Presentation or Panel Title

Space Between: Understanding Identity through a Study of Fiction

Abstract

While some aspects of identity may seem obvious, in actuality it is nebulous and changeable, lit not only by one's inner world but also impacted by the outer - what others think, feel, do, believe. We negotiate our world to find similarities that offer us a place, a circle we can stand within connected to others just like us. What happens if you are not one thing or another, but a combination of both? The need to be a part of a whole, to satisfy our need for comfort, companionship, and security, is as much innate as it is learned. We are forced to decide "what" we are instead of being able to focus on "who" we are. As our multicultural world becomes more and more complex, the "what" we are also fragments, making it difficult to pick just one aspect of self with which to identify. Choosing one often means denying another. Trying to maintain the status quo can lead to a juggling act that is difficult to maintain. In the end, the results can be devastating. This is the moral of Nella Larsen's 1929 novel Passing, a story that explores the problems attached to passing, not only racially but in a variety of other ways. This presentation offers a detailed exploration of the novel Passing to explore the action of passing as a social phenomenon, and to understand why people choose to pass, the different ways they can pass, and the ramifications for taking this step.

Presentation Description

Identity is nebulous and changeable, lit not only by one's inner world but also impacted by the outer. We have a need to be a part of a whole, to satisfy our need for comfort, companionship, and security. Nella Larsen's 1929 novel Passing explores the problems attached to passing, not only racially but in a variety of other ways. This presentation offers an exploration of the novel Passing to explore the action of passing as a social phenomenon, and to understand why people choose to pass, the different ways they can pass, and the ramifications for taking this step.

Keywords

Identity, Biracial, Harlem Renaissance, Literature

Location

Magnolia Room C

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 14th, 9:15 AM Jun 14th, 10:30 AM

Space Between: Understanding Identity through a Study of Fiction

Magnolia Room C

While some aspects of identity may seem obvious, in actuality it is nebulous and changeable, lit not only by one's inner world but also impacted by the outer - what others think, feel, do, believe. We negotiate our world to find similarities that offer us a place, a circle we can stand within connected to others just like us. What happens if you are not one thing or another, but a combination of both? The need to be a part of a whole, to satisfy our need for comfort, companionship, and security, is as much innate as it is learned. We are forced to decide "what" we are instead of being able to focus on "who" we are. As our multicultural world becomes more and more complex, the "what" we are also fragments, making it difficult to pick just one aspect of self with which to identify. Choosing one often means denying another. Trying to maintain the status quo can lead to a juggling act that is difficult to maintain. In the end, the results can be devastating. This is the moral of Nella Larsen's 1929 novel Passing, a story that explores the problems attached to passing, not only racially but in a variety of other ways. This presentation offers a detailed exploration of the novel Passing to explore the action of passing as a social phenomenon, and to understand why people choose to pass, the different ways they can pass, and the ramifications for taking this step.