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


“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

"By defining key figures, practices, and comparative approaches, Neo-Segregation Narratives clarifies and validates the work of scholarship on the literature of the Civil Rights Movement."
—Julie Buckner Armstrong, MELUS

"Norman's reorienting anatomy of his chosen texts and his energetic defense of his conceptual and methodological underpinnings gives this study a rich blend of poise and provocation that has staying power."
—John S. Wright, Journal of America History

"Neo-Segregation Narratives is an expansive and inventive work of scholarship, intrepid in its declaration of a new literary tradition. . . . Norman's study leaves me reflecting on this intriguing suggestion that literature can achieve forms of 'integration' that continue to elude us in American life."
—Heidi E. Bollinger, Callaloo

“Norman has produced a valuable work of scholarship, one that will resituate the way those of us who work in African American literary and cultural studies, as well as those who work more broadly in critical race theory and historiographical studies, will think and talk about black cultural products in years to come.”
—Gary Edward Holcomb, Journal of Twentieth-Century Literature

More / Hide


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


List price: $69.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

List price: $24.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

List price: $24.95
Check ebook availability

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.