Writing Diversity II - Essentialism, or reducing people to their nature
Diversity is a hot topic within the literary world. As a teacher of Gender and Post-Colonial Studies, the question of diversity and its representation within literature is at the forefront of everything I teach, read, and write. Even though the larger part of the canon is still made up of white heterosexual men who write about other white heterosexual men, things are gradually shifting. Self-publishing is doing a lot to alter the gender dynamic: more women are successfully self-published than men, and I have high hopes for self-publishing to open the way for non-white and non-heterosexual writers as well. Next to that, more writers are becoming increasingly aware of the necessity to include a more diverse array of characters in their work.
This last issue is the focus of my new blog series on Writing Diversity.
Each month, I will address the complexity behind the portrayal of diverse characters in our work by diving deeply into a variety of topics, including representation, tokenism, gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and so on. This month, I discuss the subject of ‘essentialism’, from what essentialism is to why it is problematic to attribute our characters with essentialist traits.