This dissertation makes a case for re-thinking the Harlem Renaissance as a time not just of African American expression but as a movement where artists explored more complex notions of racial and gendered identity in their writing.
By exploring the intersectionality of the mixed-race male in Jessie Fauset’s Plum Bun and Jean Toomer’s Cane, this project emphasises the mixed-race male as a vehicle through which to expose and challenge hegemonic discourse during the context of the Harlem Renaissance. Through the lens of masculinity, this project complicates the insular theorisation by black feminist critics of the quintessential intersectional body as the black female subject. The social experience of the mixed-race male provides the opportunity to understand how intersectionality and “performativity” impact mixed-race masculinity in this particular historical context. Through analysis of Anthony Cross and Ralph Kabnis as mixed-race males, we can destabilise masculinity as a reified concept as it is impacted by historical specificity and intersectional constructs such as race.
By recognising the fluid nature of race and gender in the mixed-race male it aids an understanding of their liminal experience, and how the Harlem Renaissance can be seen as a precedent of multiracial expression termed by the socio-political movements and scholarship of the 1990s.