Neo–Segregation Narratives
Jim Crow in Post–Civil Rights American Literature

Brian Norman

A compelling new take on black writing and the legacy of segregation

Reviews

“Provocative and illuminating . . . Neo–Segregation Narratives is crucial reading for anyone interested in deciphering the malleable manifestations of the color line in a postracial culture.”
—Elizabeth Abel, University of California, Berkeley

“Offering an original and provocative approach to the literary representation of segregation, Neo–Segregation Narratives demands that we think differently, and much more creatively, about the historical timeline of Jim Crow and the complex persistence of American racial divisions.”
—Eric J. Sundquist, author of King’s Dream: The Legacy of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech


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Description

This study of what Brian Norman terms a neo–segregation narrative tradition examines literary depictions of life under Jim Crow that were written well after the civil rights movement.

From Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, to bestselling black fiction of the 1980s to a string of recent work by black and nonblack authors and artists, Jim Crow haunts the post–civil rights imagination. Norman traces a neo–segregation narrative tradition—one that developed in tandem with neo–slave narratives—by which writers return to a moment of stark de jure segregation to address contemporary concerns about national identity and the persistence of racial divides. These writers upset dominant national narratives of achieved equality, portraying what are often more elusive racial divisions in what some would call a postracial present.

Norman examines works by black writers such as Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, David Bradley, Wesley Brown, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Colson Whitehead, films by Spike Lee, and other cultural works that engage in debates about gender, Black Power, blackface minstrelsy, literary history, and whiteness and ethnicity. Norman also shows that multiethnic writers such as Sherman Alexie and Tom Spanbauer use Jim Crow as a reference point, extending the tradition of William Faulkner’s representations of the segregated South and John Howard Griffin’s notorious account of crossing the color line from white to black in his 1961 work Black Like Me.

Page count: 212 pp.
4 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9

 

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Brian Norman is an assistant professor of English and the director of African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland. He is author of The American Protest Essay and National Belonging: Addressing Division and coeditor of Representing Segregation: Toward an Aesthetics of Living Jim Crow, and Other Forms of Racial Division.