ABSTRACT

This article explores how Fran Ross’s 1974 novel Oreo uses humor to challenge static notions of Black, Jewish, and American identity. Through her mock heroic quest, Oreo’s eponymous protagonist develops WIT (“Way of the Interstitial Thrust”), a system of self-defense that draws on her multifaceted identity as a Jewish, African American woman and that she uses to successfully navigate spaces that threaten her with physical violence and symbolic erasure. In its hilarious exploration of the complexity and commodification of identity in the late twentieth century United States, Oreo provides a still-relevant example of how humor can create new spaces for minoritized subjects who exist in the “interstices” of the landscape of American cultural production.

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