Off the hyphen : race consciousness in Du Bois and U.S. Latina/o cultural theory


With The Souls of Black Folk. W.E.B. Du Bois's revolutionary collection of essays on black experience, American intellectuals were introduced to the ethnic phenomenon of double consciousness: the intimate experience of perceiving oneself through the eyes of a dominant power, while simultaneously preserving one’s own agency and sense of cultural identity. For the ethnic student, the figurative and prophetic nature of Du Bois's work lends itself to personal identification; but is it useful, or even just, to extend the application of double consciousness outside the realm of the African American experience? When examining the current body of literary theory on the subject of ethnicity outside of African American studies, few thinkers go beyond a peripheral evocation of Du Bois's ideas to allow The Souls of Black Folk to inform their dealings with contemporary ethnic, hyphenated identity. By searching for recurring themes of duality in a context of social oppression in U.S. Latina/o narratives, as well as by analyzing the cultural significance of inheriting a certain race or skin color in the U.S., this thesis attempts to locate echoes of Du Bois’s idea of double consciousness in U.S. Caribbean, Chicana/o, and Borderland cultural theories. In particular, they examine cultural representations of ethnic American consciousness as related to race, masculinity and "machismo," feminism, and spirituality. Focusing on concepts from Jose Vasconcelos, Gloria Anzaldua, and Chela Sandoval in particular, I trace instances of double consciousness and multiple or differential consciousness that complement Du Bois’s original theory and allow us to imagine connections, coalitions, and lines of solidarity among African American and U.S. Latina/o people, culture, history, and politics.


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Thesis Completion





Meehan, Kevin


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences



Degree Program

English Literature


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences; Anzaldua, Gloria -- Criticism and interpretation; Consciousness in literature; Du Bois, W.E.B. -- (William Edward Burghardt) -- 1868-1963 -- Criticism and interpretation; Du Bois, W.E.B. -- (William Edward Burghardt) -- 1868-1963 -- Souls of Black folk







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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