In this chapter, I emphasize how Chicana/o artists and writers have been influential in rejecting essentialist notions of identity in their autobiographical work, and emphasize instead the changing phenomena of self-representation within the expanding cultural space of Las Americas. These locations of identity challenge the exceptionality model of American studies and contribute to new anthropological understandings of how people and culture are displaced or reinvent themselves. ~ Juan Velasco
- BOMB Interview: Robin Coste Lewis
- Race on Campus
- ‘Hottentots’ and the evolution of European racism
- The “Hottentot Venus,” Sexuality, and the Changing Aesthetics of Race, 1650–1850
- Rebirth of Venus, The New Yorker
- Voyage of the Sable Venus Book Review, The New York Times
- I am an Artist through to My Marrow, The Guardian
- The Voyage of the Sable Venus from Angola to the West Indies
- You’re Fine, You’re Hired (1988) - Lorna Simpson
- Mirror, Mirror (1987) - Carrie Mae Weems
“This is my life, Cutting up old film/don’t edit the wrong thing out.” So warns Robin Coste Lewis, in one of her poems. “Dick-and-Jane-with-me Page Spread, The Upper Room II, Flipside Self.” The lines speak tersely to the necessity of preserving memory, both personal and historical. Otherwise, says Coste, we are left with only “a tale of amnesia.” Hers is a view shared by Patricia Hampl who has written, “If you don’t tell your own story, someone else will tell it for you.” Both views inform the research I do on personal narrative often, though not exclusively, in relation to ethnicity....
I am the propogandist on this panel. By narrating some of the history of the Reid Family Writers of Color Series, and by telling you a story about the time I taught Sapphire’s Push in my EP 3 class on Clarissa, I hope to push everyone here to teach the Reid book regardless of your particular area of expertise. For some in this audience, teaching the Reid book falls naturally within your scholarly and pedagogical purview. For others, including me, it does not. If you are planning a class on the Early English Novel, or Shakespeare, or Medieval Romance it may seem incongruous—even absurd—to include The Voyage of the Sable Venus on your syllabus. My job (as Sarah told me when she asked me to be on this panel—you can blame her for this) is to push you to teach the Reid book regardless....