Race and White Identity in Southern Fiction: From Faulkner to Morrison

Paperback | August 7, 2012

byJohn N. Duvall

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Race and White Identity in Southern Fiction explores a form of racial passing that has gone largely unnoticed. Duvall makes visible the means by which southern novelists repeatedly imagined their white characters as fundamentally black in some sense. Beginning with William Faulkner, Duvall traces a form of figurative and rhetorical masking in twentieth-century southern fiction that derives from whiteface minstrelsy. In the fiction of such subsequent writers as Flannery O'Connor, John Barth, Dorothy Allison, and Ishmael Reed, the reader sees characters who present a white face to the world, even as they unconsciously perform cultural blackness. These queer performances of race repeatedly reveal that being merely Caucasian is insufficient to claim Southern Whiteness.

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Race and White Identity in Southern Fiction explores a form of racial passing that has gone largely unnoticed. Duvall makes visible the means by which southern novelists repeatedly imagined their white characters as fundamentally black in some sense. Beginning with William Faulkner, Duvall traces a form of figurative and rhetorical mas...

John N. Duvall is Professor of English, Purdue University. He is author of Faulkner's Marginal Couple: Invisible Outlaw, and Unspeakable Communities, The Identifying Fictions of Toni Morrison: Modernist Authenticity and Postmodern Blackness, and editor or co-editor of Modern Fiction Studies, Productive Postmodernism: Consuming Histori...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:214 pages, 7.55 × 5.6 × 0.45 inPublished:August 7, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023034044X

ISBN - 13:9780230340442

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Table of Contents

White Face, Black Culture * Artificial Negroes, White Homelessness, and Diaspora Consciousness * William Faulkner, Whiteface, and Black Identity * Flannery O’Connor, (G)race, and Colored Identity * John Barth, Blackface, and Invisible Identity * Dorothy Allison, “Nigger Trash,” and Miscegenated Identity * African American Fiction and the Limits of Whiteface

Editorial Reviews

"Duvall's readers, who have received good instruction in the uses of minstrelsy and white face (conscious and unconscious) in a variety of texts, will be on the lookout for the trope in other Southern writing.  Those who teach about that writing will find that Duvall has strengthened their arsenal."--Joseph M. Flora, Mississippi Quarterly"I applaud Duvall's careful positioning of his terms throughout his study and its apparatus and find that it opens a well-considered space for discussion of the relationships of whiteness, blackness, and their relative visible and cultural forms . . . Race and White Identity in Southern Fiction: From Faulkner to Morrison primes one for the possibility of more recombinatory work on race, race changes, and the dismantling of whiteness."--Contemporary Literature"Duvall’s study is an ambitious one, able to cover a great deal of conceptual ground with an admirable economy of expression . . . lucid and compelling, an essential volume for scholars of the American South, critical race theory, and twentieth-century literature."--South Atlantic Review  "Duvall positions his argument between queer and feminist performance studies, on the one hand, and critical race and whiteness studies, on the other . . . In treating race as a form of cultural performance enacted by authors and their novels, Duvall joins a group of scholars . . . who, at long last, are moving past the notion that race is, as Frantz Fanon famously put it, a factually 'epidermal schema.'"--Novel“For some reason, the synergy between critical whiteness studies and southern literary studies has been slow to develop. That changes with Duvall’s Race and White Identity in Southern Fiction. In a series of deftly written chapters ranging from Faulkner’s self-caricature as a funny black man in New Orleans in the 1920s to contemporary dissections of whiteness by Toni Morrison, Dorothy Allison, and Ishmael Reed, Duvall charts the crises in representation and subjectivity that result when racially white southerners find themselves, often inadvertently, performing cultural blackness. This book would be indispensable if only for the highly original way in which it racializes the famous anagogical moment (or moment of grace) in the writings of Flannery O’Connor.  But Duvall deserves extra credit for welcoming John Barth back into the canon of Southern writing, a canon from which Barth’s credentials as a postmodernist have often seemed to exclude him. A very impressive study.”--Jay Watson, Professor of English, University of Mississippi