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ENG 240: The Modern Novel - Kehoe

Passing, by Nella Larsen (1929)

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   Nella Larsen

  • the novel: definition and a brief history (see: handout posted under RESOURCES)
  • literary period and historical background: Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance
    • the modernist novel: a search for ways of expressing psychological realism and creative experimentation supplants conventions of nineteenth-century realism
    • a brief introduction to the Harlem Renaissance and the Manhattan neighborhood that was its hub
    • a curated collection of images and resources on the visual art of the Harlem Renaissance
  • about Nella Larsen (1891-1964); Passing published in 1929
  • critical approaches, literary terms, and references:
    • New Historicism (see: handout posted under RESOURCES)
      • What can we learn about the Harlem Renaissance and America in the 1920s by applying this critical approach to Passing?
    • foil characters
      • What are the similarities, contrasts, and correspondences between Irene and Clare?
      • What role does this relationship between the two characters play in the story?
    • the epigraph to Passing comes from Countee Cullen’s poem “Heritage”
      • What do the quoted lines signal about what we might expect from the novel?

 

FURTHER READING

Brody, Jennifer DeVere. "Clare Kendry's 'True' Colors: Race and Class Conflict in Nella Larsen's Passing." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, edited by Thomas J. Schoenberg, vol. 200, Gale, 2008. Gale Literature Resource Center, link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1420081952/GLS?u=mlin_b_roxbury&sid=bookmark-GLS&xid=e95e8dcf. Originally published in Callaloo, vol. 15, no. 4, Fall 1992, pp. 1053-1065.

Horton, Merrill. "Blackness, Betrayal, and Childhood: Race and Identity in Nella Larsen's Passing." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, edited by Thomas J. Schoenberg, vol. 200, Gale, 2008. Gale Literature Resource Center, link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1420081955/GLS?u=mlin_b_roxbury&sid=bookmark-GLS&xid=2bdb73d0. Originally published in CLA Journal, vol. 38, no. 1, Sept. 1994, pp. 31-45.

Larson, Charles R. "Nella Larsen: Voice of the Harlem Renaissance." World and I, vol. 15, no. 2, Feb. 2000, p. 293. Gale General OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A58835580/ITOF?u=mlin_b_roxbury&sid=bookmark-ITOF&xid=d5e252c3.

McLendon, Jacquelyn Y. "Nella Larsen: Overview." Feminist Writers, edited by Pamela Kester-Shelton, St. James Press, 1996. Gale Literature Resource Center, link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1420004799/GLS?u=mlin_b_roxbury&sid=bookmark-GLS&xid=567036c8.

Sullivan, Nell. "Nella Larsen's Passing and the Fading Subject." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, edited by Thomas J. Schoenberg, vol. 200, Gale, 2008. Gale Literature Resource Center, link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1420081961/GLS?u=mlin_b_roxbury&sid=bookmark-GLS&xid=3017bbae. Originally published in African American Review, vol. 32, no. 3, Fall 1998, pp. 373-386.