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The Color of Sex Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy by Mason Stokes

The Color of Sex Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy

Part of the New Americanists Series


The Color of Sex Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy by Mason Stokes

In The Color of Sex Mason Stokes offers new ways of thinking about whiteness by exploring its surprisingly ambivalent partnership with heterosexuality. Stokes examines a wide range of white-supremacist American texts written and produced between 1852 and 1915-literary romances, dime novels, religious and scientific tracts, film-and exposes whiteness as a tangled network of racial and sexual desire. Stokes locates these white-supremacist texts amid the anti-racist efforts of African American writers and activists, deepening our understanding of both American and African American literary and cultural history. The Color of Sex reveals what happens when race and sexuality meet, when white desire encounters its own ambivalence. As Stokes argues, whiteness and heterosexuality exist in anxious relation to one another. Mutually invested in the normal, they support each other in their desperate insistence on the cultural logic of exclusion. At the same time, however, they threaten one another in their attempt to create and sustain a white future, since reproducing whiteness necessarily involves the risk of contamination Charting the curious movements of this white heterosexuality, The Color of Sex inaugurates a new moment in our ongoing attempt to understand the frenzied interplay of race and sexuality in America. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in race theory, sexuality studies, and American history, culture, and literature.


An engaging and well written exploration of nineteenth-century `fictions
of white supremacy that manages to combine wit and erudition

. -Gayle Wald, author of Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth Century U.S. Literature and Culture A stunningly conceived, lucidly written, well supported, nuanced, and absolutely compelling analysis of a culturally repressed and underanalyzed body of important literary materials. Stokes demonstrates with amplifying brilliance the operative interdependence of whiteness and normative heterosexuality. -Dana Nelson, author of National Manhood: Capitalist Citizenship and the Imagined Fraternity of White Men

About the Author

Mason Stokes is Assistant Professor of English at Skidmore College.

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Book Info

Publication date

8th February 2001


Mason Stokes

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Duke University Press


264 pages


Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: from c 1900 -
Regional studies
Social discrimination & inequality
Ethnic studies



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