Why can a “white” woman give birth to a “black” baby, while a “black” woman can never give birth to a “white” baby in the United States? What makes racial “passing” so different from social mobility? Why are interracial and incestuous relations often confused or conflated in literature, making “miscegenation” appear as if it were incest? Werner Sollors examines these questions and others in Neither Black nor White yet Both, a fully researched investigation of literary works that, in the past, have been read more for a black–white contrast of “either–or” than for an interracial realm of “neither, nor, both, and in-between.”
From the origins of the term “race” to the cultural sources of the “Tragic Mulatto,” and from the calculus of color to the retellings of various plots, Sollors examines what we know about race, analyzing recurrent motifs in scientific and legal works as well as in fiction, drama, and poetry.