Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The tragic mulatta character is no longer an accurate representation of biracial female characters in literature. This dissertation considers the vast history of the tragic mulatto genre and its tragic and mired representations of biracial women and how they are often portrayed in literature. Within a historical, legal, and political analysis, I highlight the ways perceptions, attitudes, and representations about biracial individuals have changed, so those same shifts should change in the literature. Because of the bourgeoning field of Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS), both scholars and authors are recasting and rewriting the narratives and discourses of mixed-race in the areas of literature, sociology, and psychology. My dissertation explains how CMRS’s interdisciplinary approach to the issues and experiences of mixed-race is necessary, progressive, and innovative. Throughout the study, I propose new representations and new critical methods be used to analyze contemporary works to discuss current issues affecting the realities of biracial individuals. This dissertation analyzes the contemporary biracial fiction of Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998) and Heidi Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (2010). I propose here that the two specific texts by Senna and Durrow serve as good models in demonstrating to readers how to develop a biracial literacy and how to read biracial characters with this same biracial lens. My analysis pushes us to read biracial literature in ways where we do not use biracialness as the tragedy. The dissertation stresses the need for increased publishing efforts of biracial and multiracial books and literature across more homes, classrooms, and libraries so all types of experiences can be represented in literature.



Committee Chair

Bibler, Michael