American Studies

Cherise Smith

Affiliate FacultyPh.D., Stanford University

Associate Professor
Cherise Smith



American art after 1945, intersection of art with race and gender, African American art and visual culture, performance and conceptual art practices, politics of identity, photography


AMS 391 • Performing Race Am Art/Cul

29965 • Spring 2016
Meets T 900am-1200pm GWB 1.138
(also listed as AFR 387D)

The phenomenon of “passing”—in which a person consciously represents her/himself as something he or she is not—is the topic of this graduate seminar.  Different types of “passing” include the crossing of class boundaries, ethnic impersonation, and minstrelsy.  The emphasis of this course will be on representations of racial performance in visual art (Adrian Piper, Eleanor Antin, Anna Deveare Smith, Cindy Sherman), literature (Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Norman Mailer’s The White Negro), and films (Imitation of LifeMy Fair LadyBlade Runner).  Through texts from the 19th through 21st centuries, we will consider the various and shifting reasons why individuals have shed their own identities and donned new ones, and why the practice continues today. 


“Looking Relations in a Charnay Photograph.” Fotophile, 46 (February, 2004), 16- 20.

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