Advancing Sisterhood?
Interracial Friendships in Contemporary Southern Fiction

Sharon Monteith

An exploration of the dynamics of black–white female friendships as portrayed by contemporary white women writers


"Monteith's study reads across race—still the great barrier in America—to elegantly explore transgressing friendships between black and white women. Advancing Sisterhood? is first-rate scholarship."
—Diane Roberts

"Advancing Sisterhood? provocatively brings together theories from several intersecting fields—southern studies, women's studies, cultural studies."
—Suzanne Jones, University of Richmond

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Though black and white women have long been associated with the heart of southern culture, their relationships with each other in the context of contemporary southern fiction have been largely glossed over until now. In Advancing Sisterhood? Sharon Monteith offers an enlightening map of this new literary ground. Beginning with an overview of the theory and literary incarnations of friendship, Advancing Sisterhood? examines how prevalent specific relationships between black and white women have become in the works of Ellen Douglas, Kaye Gibbons, Connie Mae Fowler, Lane von Herzen, Ellen Gilchrist, Carol Dawson, and others. Monteith explains that interracial friendships have become an alluring topic for white women writers. She also examines these friendships in relation to the ways black women writers and critics have pictured black and white girls and women in the South.

Advancing Sisterhood? explores childhood female relationships in such works as Ellen Foster and Before Women Had Wings and considers recent ecocriticism and its role in charting the female southern landscape. Monteith also provides an in-depth examination of the archetypal friendship between white housewives and their black servants. Through these discussions, Advancing Sisterhood? demonstrates how contemporary white women writers have broadened their work to include friendships between women of diverse backgrounds and to influence literary expression.

Page count: 256 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $46.95

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Sharon Monteith is Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Nottingham, England.