Publication Date

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English and Comparative Literature


Keenan Norris


African American Literature, Chesnutt, Critical Whiteness Studies, Larsen, Literature, Schuyler

Subject Areas



The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the representations of whiteness found in three pieces of literature. The thesis not only teases out the nuances of whiteness, but specifically analyzes the violence that whiteness inflicts upon the black body. To begin, I define what whiteness and whiteness ideology is in relation to race. After introducing the idea and functions of whiteness, I dive into the investigation by analyzing three major novels written by African American authors during the early twentieth century. While analyzing the instances of white violence in one of the three novels, the other two novels will offer insights that build upon, expand, and offer a holistic representation of white ideology and its violence. These novels make it clear that whiteness is inherently violent and that it uses that violence to maintain power.