Cover image for Passing : identity and interpretation in sexuality, race, and religion
Passing : identity and interpretation in sexuality, race, and religion
Sánchez, María Carla, 1968-
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 274 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Telling tales: Brandon Teena, Billy Tipton, and transgender biography / Judith Halberstam -- Passing like me: Jewish chameleonism and the politics of race / Daniel Itzkovitz -- Whiteness invisible: early Mexican American writing and the color of literary history / Mariá Carla Sánchez -- Passing lines: immigration and the performance of American identity / Brad Epps -- From Victorian parlor to Physique Pictorial: the male nude and homosexual identity / Michael Bronski -- Slumming / Peter Hitchcock -- The "self-made man": male impersonation and the new woman / Sharon Ullman -- Mimesis in the face of fear: femme queens, butch queens, and gender play in the houses of greater Newark / Karen McCarthy Brown -- "The Church's closet": confessionals, Victorian Catholicism, and the crisis of identification / Patrick R. O'Malley -- Moses' wilderness tabernacle / Miriam Peskowitz.
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HM1068 .P37 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Passing for what you are not--whether it is mulattos passing as white, Jews passing as Christian, or drag queens passing as women--can be a method of protection or self-defense. But it can also be a uniquely pleasurable experience, one that trades on the erotics of secrecy and revelation. It is precisely passing's radical playfulness, the way it asks us to reconsider our assumptions and forces our most cherished fantasies of identity to self-destruct, that is centrally addressed in Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion .

Identity in Western culture is largely structured around visibility, whether in the service of science (Victorian physiognomy), psychoanalysis (Lacan's mirror stage), or philosophy (the Panopticon). As such, it is charged with anxieties regarding classification and social demarcation. Passing wreaks havoc with accepted systems of social recognition and cultural intelligibility, blurring the carefully-marked lines of race, gender, and class.

Bringing together theories of passing across a host of disciplines--from critical race theory and lesbian and gay studies, to literary theory and religious studies --Passing complicates our current understanding of the visual and categories of identity.

Contributors: Michael Bronski, Karen McCarthy Brown, Bradley Epps, Judith Halberstam, Peter Hitchcock, Daniel Itzkovitz, Patrick O'Malley, Miriam Peskowitz, María C. Sánchez Linda Schlossberg, and Sharon Ullman.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Judith Halberstam takes issue with transgender biography that "recasts the act of passing as deception, dishonesty, and fraud." Brad Epps explores the immigrant experience of interrogation upon crossing borders. Sharon Ullman looks at the early 20th-century phenomenon of male impersonation in relation to the "`New Woman'" campaign of first-wave feminists. In Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion, editors Maria Carla Sanchez and Linda Schlossberg have assembled relevant cultural criticism by 10 scholars. Familiar names like Brandon Teena, George Orwell and Charles Atlas are discussed alongside less known figures like early Mexican-American author Mar!a Amparo Ruiz de Burton and a popular vaudevillian of indeterminate gender named Biscauex. (Nov. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

The appearance of this title in the "Sexual Cultures" series is obvious and logical, after a decade-long inquiry into "the closet" initiated by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's The Epistemology of the Closet (1990) and Judith Butler's work on "performativity." The book's subtitle and Schlossberg's preface promise a wealth of connected "passing" phenomena read within contemporary, fraught theorizings of identity. The collection fails that promise. Essays on transgender passing and Jewish passing set high standards. Suggestive and persuasive, both are grounded in a historical moment that has produced multiple cultural readings (Brandon Teens in 1950s rural Nebraska; Waldo Frank's travels with Jean Toomer in the South in 1922); both tease through these readings by theorizing the masked and the spoken; and both work within broader contexts of identity formation. Although implicitly each gestures toward the subject of passing, the remaining seven pieces, whatever the merits of their chosen purviews, fail to address head-on the book's topic. Taken as a whole, this collection is disappointing because it fails to open problematic "passing" as decisively as Schlossberg promises. For extensive academic collections serving upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. N. Mager Johnson C. Smith University

Table of Contents

Linda SchlossbergJudith HalberstamDaniel ItzkovitzMaria Carla SanchezBrad EppsMichael BronskiPeter HitchcockSharon UllmanKaren McCarthy BrownPatrick R. O'MalleyMiriam Peskowitz
Introduction: Rites of Passingp. 1
1 Telling Tales: Brandon Teena, Billy Tipton, and Transgender Biographyp. 13
2 Passing Like Me: Jewish Chameleonism and the Politics of Racep. 38
3 Whiteness Invisible: Early Mexican American Writing and the Color of Literary Historyp. 64
4 Passing Lines: Immigration and the Performance of American Identityp. 92
5 From Victorian Parlor to Physique Pictorial: The Male Nude and Homosexual Identityp. 135
6 Slummingp. 160
7 The "Self-Made Man": Male Impersonation and the New Womanp. 187
8 Mimesis in the Face of Fear: Femme Queens, Butch Queens, and Gender Play in the Houses of Greater Newarkp. 208
9 "The Church's Closet": Confessionals, Victorian Catholicism, and the Crisis of Identificationp. 228
10 Moses' Wilderness Tabernaclep. 260
Contributorsp. 273