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Palgrave Macmillan

The "White Other" in American Intermarriage Stories, 1945-2008

ISBN 9781137287168
Publication Date December 2012
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Signs of Race

Fictional depictions of intermarriage can illuminate perceptions of both 'ethnicity' and 'whiteness' at any given historical moment. Popular examples such as Lucy and Ricky in I Love Lucy (1951-1957), Joanna and John in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Toula and Ian in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) helped raise questions about national identity: does 'American' mean 'white' or a blending of ethnicities?

Building on previous studies by scholars of intermarriage and identity, this study is an ambitious endeavor to discern the ways in which literature and films from the 1960s through 2000s rework nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century intermarriage tropes. Unlike earlier stories, these narratives position the white partner as the 'other' and serve as useful frameworks for assessing ethnic and American identity. Lauren S. Cardon sheds new light on ethno-racial solidarity and the assimilation of different ethnicities into American dominant culture.

Lauren S. Cardon is a Senior Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the department of English at Tulane University, USA. Her articles on ethno-racial and cultural identity in American literature have appeared in MELUS and Southern Quarterly.

1. The Universalist
2. The White Witch
3. The Shiksa
4. The WASP
5. The Colonist and the Scout
6. The Amerikan
Conclusion: The Visible White


'The 'White Other' in American Intermarriage Stories, 1945-2008 is the first study to focus on the white image in the ethnic mind. By mapping three generations of marriage narratives as filtered through a century's worth of ethnic theories, Cardon reveals a paradigm shift in the wake of '60s ethnic revivals. From I Love Lucy to Portnoy's Complaint to The Joy Luck Club, Cardon shows the 'emptying out' of whiteness as opposed to the rich cultural dowry of the ethnic partner. This is an accessible and evocative study for college classroom discussions about culture, ethnicity, whiteness, and the Other.' - Joel Dinerstein, Director of American Studies, Tulane University, US
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