A New Millennial Mix: The Art & Politics of the “Mixed Race Experience"

Recently, The New York Times and the National Geographic have hailed the "new face of America" as young, global, and hybrid. The NY Times gave this demographic a name: Generation E.A. (Ethnically Ambiguous). Our course examines the political and aesthetic implications of Generation E.A., and the hot new vogue for all things mixed. Galvanized by the 2000 census with its "mark one or more" (MOOM) racial option, dozens of organizations, websites, affinity and advocacy groups, modeling and casting agencies, television pilots, magazines, and journals--all focused on multi-racial/multi-cultural experiences--have emerged in the last few years. We will analyze representations of mixed race and multiculturalism in law, literature, history, art, performance, film, comedy, and popular culture. These cultural and legal events are changing the way we talk and think about race.

Importantly, our seminar also broadens this discussion beyond race, exploring how crossings of the color-line so often intersect with other aspects of experience related to gender, religion, culture, or class.

Field trips, films, communal lunches, and interactive assignments help us explore the current controversies over mixed-race identification and, more generally, the expressive and political possibilities for representing complex identities. Requirements include three two- to three-page analytical writing assignments, a presentation that can include an optional artistic or media component, and a final group-designed project.

If you are a citizen of the 21st century, this class is for and about you.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Michele Elam

Professor, English, William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies, Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Director of the Graduate Program in Modern Thought and Literature (MTL)

Michele Elam is a Professor of English, the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies, an Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and the Director of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford. Elam is the author of The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (2011), Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 (2003), and Editor of the Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (2015), among her many other publications. She is currently working on an interdisciplinary Critical Mixed Race Studies Reader. Elam has served as Director of the Program in African & African American Studies (2007-10), Director of Curriculum in the Department of English (2011-13) and Director of Undergraduate Studies (2006-8).  Chair of the Executive Committee for the Black Literatures & Culture Division of the Modern Language Association (2009-13), and Advisory Committee for the American Literature Society at MLA, she is a founding member of the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association and Advisor for the Mixed Race Initiative, 100 universities worldwide joined in a multi-institution synchronous teaching program centered around the Asian American Literary Review, Special Issue on Mixed Race (2013).
Elam is thrice the recipient of the "St. Clair Drake Outstanding Teaching Award" (2004, 2006, 2015) and the "Outstanding Faculty Recognition Award for Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Students as a Teacher, Advisor and Mentor" from the Program in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (2013).