MLA Search Terms: Oscar Wao and Nerd Culture, Oscar Wao and Otherness, Oscar Wao and Power and Race
“History, Hair, and Reimagining Racial Categories in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Kunsa, Ashley.
Term: Critical Race Theory
Critical Race Theory examines culture and society for the connection between race and power, both in interpersonal interaction and legal power. It takes a particular interest in institutionalized racism and determines white supremacy as the primary cause of racial suppression. While CRT developed in the late 1970’s and focused primarily on societal situations. However, present day scholars of CRT have taken an interest in applying CRT to textual manifestations. These critical examinations do not establish racial identity as the sole site for identity, but instead tie to other identities, including class, gender, sexual, and national origin identities. CRT has also expanded from an initial black-white critical examination to scholarships focused on Indian, Asian-American, and Latino identities. CRT takes an interest in transforming racial power structures and uncovering the underlying racial biases in society. Critical race theory applies to Diaz’s novel because the complex class (ghetto nerd), racial (Dominican cultural values), gender (hyper-masculinity), and sexual (virginity as a prison, fantasies) identities present within the novel.