American Studies | Comparative American Identities: INTERRACIAL ROMANCE AND THE UNITED STATES
A200 | 18756 | Amine, L


Course Description

At a time when interracial marriage was prohibited in most states,
why were there so many books and films about American men engaging in
interracial romances after World War II? We will analyze and compare
portrayals of interracial romance in literature and Hollywood films
in order to gain critical insights about this cultural phenomenon.
Some of the questions we will try to answer are: What function does
romance play in these fictions that cross the color line and national
boundaries? Why is the focus virtually always on American men and
what changes when the race of the protagonist is black or white? Is
interracial romance a private or public matter, or both? How do these
representations converge with domestic civil rights events and
foreign policy?

We will discuss weekly articles on the intersection of romance,
nation and race that provide the conceptual backbone of the course.
We will then relate these key concepts to depictions of the
interracial romance in a variety of texts, including novels and
films. In our examinations of stories of courtship, rape, fruitful
and failed romances, we will pay particular attention to the
protagonists’ motives and the consequences of their actions. Through
our analyses of characters’ sexuality, power dynamics, and feelings
of exclusion or belonging, we will articulate the symbolic meanings
of the postwar genre of interracial romance. Active class discussion
is a crucial requirement of the course, along with essays, response
papers, quizzes and an exam.