Week 3. Earhart Q8. Race, Ethnicity vs. the Death of the Author
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  • Race and/ethnicity of the author matter in the context of recovered histories or canon expansion (read: as part of a larger ideological project to democratize the archives or to preserve heritage). However, an author's race and/or ethnicity is sometimes used as a test of authenticity: does the text in question suitably reflect topics or issues deemed to be relevant to the groups to which the author belong through his/her race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof, and age, for example or is it an outlier? How do multiple or overlapping memberships in multiple identity groups fit in with a narrow definition of race/ethnicity? Finally, digitalization, like old-fashioned textual editing and annotation, results in a collective authorship of a given text. The race/ethnicity of the editors and commentators matter inasmuch as it might shed some light on the cultural significance of the text in question to a given cultural group of which said critic is a member. However, a multiplicity of perspectives actually render a regional text universal or at least meaningful beyond its most immediate cultural framework.

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