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English 11: Caucasia: Mutable Identities  

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Film Connections

Imitation of Life - 1959

Pinky - 1949

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross - Documentary

Black Negritude

  • Negritude Movement
    The literary movement, Negritude, was born out of the Paris intellectual environment of 1930s and 1940s. It is a product of black writers joining together through the French language to assert their cultural identity. Negritude was greatly influenced by the Harlem Renaissance writing community of the 1920s.

CAUCASIA - A novel by Danzy Senna


Author Danzy Senna presents a bio-fictional account of her life as a biracial child.  Birdie, the protagonist, shapes her identity based on the complicated racial politics of her parents: A *Boston Brahmin and Black southerner. The novel offers a profound study of how cultural identity is shaped by one's parents, the social environment, and ultimately by the individual's personal evolution of self discovery. 

NB: Caucasia is being used as a signature text in an American Literature unit on how shifting personae reflect the mutability of identiy.*A Boston Brahmin is a member of Boston's traditional upper class. Members of this class are characterized by their highly discreet and inconspicuous lifestyle. Sandy, the fictional mother: is a decendant of a Boston Brahmin family (wasp) who becomes a feminist activist "on the run." Deck, the fictional father, is a black militant who separates from Sandy to pursue his own racial politics.

Related Texts:
The Color of Water by James McBride
Black, White & Jewish by Rebecca Walker

Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural 
by Claudine Chiawei O'Hear

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