Drawing from black feminist and critical race theories, historical discourses on gender and sexuality, and literary criticism, Melancon explores the variety and complexity of black female identity. She illuminates how authors including Ann Allen Shockley, Alice Walker, and Gayl Jones engage issues of desire, intimacy, and independence to shed light on a more complex black identity, one ungoverned by rigid politics over-determined by race, gender and sexuality.
- ISBN-13: 9781439911464
- ISBN-10: 1439911460
- Publisher: American Literatures Initiative
- Publish Date: November 2014
- Page Count: 235
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-10-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Melancon, a professor of English, African-American studies, and women’s studies at Loyola, brings all three disciplines to bear in this critical analysis of five “post-1960s black women’s texts.” Specifically, she looks at how the novels—Toni Morrison’s Sula, Ann Allen Shockley’s Loving Her, Alice Walker’s Meridian, Gayl Jones’s Eva’s Man, and Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place—challenge “myopic representations of black women” in American literature. Her concluding chapter assesses Michelle Obama, more as she exists in America’s collective imagination than as a real person, as a figure who fulfills the same purpose. Perhaps most provocatively, Melancon concentrates on the transgressive sexuality present in all of these books (“adultery, promiscuity, interracial sexual intimacy, circumvention of marital sex, sexual violence, same-gender loving, and/or other politics of the intimate”) and asserts its importance to the authors’ larger project. Casual readers will undoubtedly be deterred by the academic jargon rife in Melancon’s writing (“the sexual longing, desire, and intimacy enacted in these texts function metonymically for another aspirational desire”). However, serious readers of African-American literature will value the innovative observations offered on the intersection of “race, gender, and sexuality” in American life and letters. (Dec.)