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Distributed for Campus Verlag

Fake Identity?

The Impostor Narrative in North American Culture

In North America, where the sociocultural history and national mythologies of the United States and Canada are especially fertile ground for the invention of identities both fake and “real,” impostor narratives of all kinds abound. From ethnic impersonation to racial passing, going native, and confidence tricks, when it is discovered, imposture incites fascination and scandal—yet it also showcases how identities are made. The essays in this book examine both real and fictional renditions of North American imposture, placing these narratives in historical context even as they shed light on larger currents such as identity as performance and the cultural value attributed to authenticity in Western societies. From the narrator of colonial travelogues to postmodernist author and narrator voices, and from the urban con game to trickster shamanism, fake identities are shown to be a negative lens through which the performance of self is revealed.

230 pages | 25 color plates | 5 1/2 x 8 3/8 | © 2014

Culture Studies

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Table of Contents



Caroline Rosenthal and Stefanie Schäfer

Faking It: Real Imposters and the Fabrication of Identities

The Message Becomes the Messenger: Jonathan Carver’s Travels between Imposture and Nationalist Self-Fashioning

Ramin Djahazi

‘The Wish to be a Red Indian’: The Canadian Dream of Grey Owl

Caroline Rosenthal

The Curious Case of Asa Carter and The Education of Little Tree

Laura Browder

The Imposter as Trickster as Innovator: A Re-Reading of Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan Cycle

Stefan Löchle

Making the Fake: Fake Identities in Literature, Film, and TV

“You Do an Awfully Good Impression of Yourself”: Authorial Imposters in Contemporary American Fiction

Jan D. Kucharzewski

Reading Fiction under False Assumptions? Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins and her Posthumous Passing for Black

Yulia Kozyrakis

Unwilling Imposters, Willing Victims: Passing in Two Nineteenth-Century Cuban Novels

Victor Goldgel

From Rinehartism to Capgras: Imposture and the American Dream

Christian Knirsch

Watch Me If You Can: The Return of the Imposter in Contemporary Film

Wieland Schwanebeck

The Con Man and the Close-Up: Imposture in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood

Martin Holtz

“A Man is Whatever Room He’s In”: Identity, Home, and Nostalgia in AMC’s Mad Men

Stefanie Mueller

AlterNatives? – A Coda

Identifying Joyriding with the Trickster in Drew Hayden Taylor’s Motorcycles & Sweetgrass

Maryann Henck

Pretending to Be an Imposter

Drew Hayden Taylor



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