Explores the manner in which the politics of race and gender overdetermine narrative structures
Race, Gender, and Desire
Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker
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Employing interpretive strategies from semiotics, narratology, feminist theory, and ideological analysis, Elliott Butler-Evans explores the manner in which the politics of race and gender overdetermine the narrative structures of the fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. He argues that their writing is "often the site of dissonance, ruptures, and...a kind of narrative violence generated by...these two distinctly different, and often contending, expressions of desire."
For novelists such as those considered, the identification "black women writers" suggests the ideological duality that both limits and expands the meanings within their literature. After locating the nationalist, black aesthetic, and black feminist discourses in the writings of Morrison, Bambara, and Walker, Butler-Evans argues for a problematic tension between the racial and gender ideologies in the authors’ fictions of the 1970s. In a concluding chapter, he demonstrates how the writers’ use of post-modern narrative strategies enables them to figure a black feminist ideological position in their fictions of the 1980s.
"A work of engaging, challenging scholarship. The critical matrix that informs many of the important issues in contemporary critical/literary theory and a fine understanding of the often-dismissed Black Arts Movement whose suppositions, as he demonstrates, find refiguration inand are challenged bythe work of Bambara, Morrison, and Walker.... He offers a much-needed study that boldly asserts the appropriateness of poststructuralist Afrocentric/feminist literary analysis. Many scholars are starving for sophisticated theoretical analysis of the brilliant work of Afro American writers such as Morrison, Walker, and Bambara. Butler-Evans's provocative study will provide such readers with much food for though, and may permanently alter the ways in which we read these writers."
Elliott Butler-Evans is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.