Women and Gender Seminar: Leslie Dunlap, Willamette University

Women and Gender Seminar
Friday, April 24, 2009

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

“Vara Majette’s White Blood: Race and Sexual Freedom in the New South”
Leslie Dunlap, Willamette University
Historians tend to cast white female reformers in the New South as asexual proponents of social control, and as complicit partners in white supremacy. This paper explores white women’s search for political and sexual expression in the 1920s through the case of rural reformer and writer Vara Majette. In 1924, Majette published White Blood, a romance novel that challenged some of the white South’s most cherished sexual myths, including the idea that white women needed white men’s “protection” from black men. Her life and writings reveal the complications of southern white women’s relationship to white men and black southerners–and to sexual desire itself–dramatizing how thoroughly white supremacy troubled women’s twentieth-century quest for sexual freedom.

Commentator: Sandra Frink, Roosevelt University