Passing is the pretense of being a different sort of person for advantage or protection. Passing reeks of inauthenticity; it arouses pity, amusement, and loathing. But authenticity, notes Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is "among the founding lies of the modern age." As a violation of American racial codes, passing is seen as a color problem to be policed through constant surveillance. The contours of gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity (including "The Jewish Problem" of assimilation) are also scrutinized. Not that passing is new. Moses passed. Many Jews caught up in the Spanish Inquisition acted Christian in public. Both terrors of the Shoah and opportunities of life in America have been associated with Jewish passing, not always by Jews. The course approaches these issues through historical and theoretical studies, memoirs, short stories, plays and films.
Crs Requirements: Grades will be based on class participation (20%); response papers, some of which will be written in class (20%); a 2000-word paper (30%); and a take-home final exam (30%). Several movies will be available for viewing as homework assignments. Students will also engage films and film clips, photographs, and music clips during class time.
Intended Audience: Upper-class concentrators as well as other juniors and seniors
Class Format: Recitation format three hours per week