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Remembering the past in contemporary African American fiction / Keith Byerman.

By: Byerman, Keith Eldon, 1948-.
Material type: TextTextPublisher: Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2005Description: viii, 228 p. ; 25 cm.ISBN: 0807829803 (cloth : alk. paper); 9780807829806 (cloth : alk. paper); 0807856479 (pbk. : alk. paper); 9780807856475 (pbk. : alk. paper).Subject(s): American fiction -- African American authors -- History and criticism | Literature and history -- United States -- History -- 20th century | American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism | African Americans -- Intellectual life -- 20th century | Historical fiction, American -- History and criticism | Autobiographical memory in literature | African Americans in literature | History in literature | Memory in literatureAdditional physical formats: Online version:: Remembering the past in contemporary African American fiction.DDC classification: 813/.5409358/08996073 Other classification: 18.06
Contents:
History, culture, discourse : America's racial formation -- Burying the dead : the pain of memory in Beloved -- Bearing witness : the recent fiction of Ernest Gaines -- Troubling the water : subversive women's voices in Dessa Rose and Mama Day -- A short history of desire : Jazz and Bailey's Cafe -- The color of desire : folk history in the fiction of Raymond Andrews -- Postmodern slavery and the transcendence of desire : the novels of Charles Johnson -- Family secrets : reinventions of history in The Chaneysville incident -- Family troubles : history as subversion in Two wings to veil my face and Divine days -- Lost generations : John Edgar Wideman's Homewood narratives -- Apocalyptic visions and false prophets : the end(s) of history in Wideman, Johnson, and Morrison.
Summary: With close readings of more than twenty novels by writers including Ernest Gaines, Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, Gloria Naylor, and John Edgar Wideman, Keith Byerman examines the trend among African American novelists of the late twentieth century to write about black history rather than about their own present. Employing cultural criticism and trauma theory, Byerman frames these works as survivor narratives that rewrite the grand American narrative of individual achievement and the march of democracy. The choice to write historical narratives, he says, must be understood historically. These writers earned widespread recognition for their writing in the 1980s, a period of African American commercial success, as well as the economic decline of the black working class and an increase in black-on-black crime. Byerman contends that a shared experience of suffering joins African American individuals in a group identity, and writing about the past serves as an act of resistance against essentialist ideas of black experience shaping the cultural discourse of the present. Byerman demonstrates that these novels disrupt the temptation in American society to engage history only to limit its significance or to crown successful individuals while forgetting the victims. --Publisher.
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
PS374 .N4 B94 2005 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001842517

Includes bibliographical references (p. [209]-222) and index.

History, culture, discourse : America's racial formation -- Burying the dead : the pain of memory in Beloved -- Bearing witness : the recent fiction of Ernest Gaines -- Troubling the water : subversive women's voices in Dessa Rose and Mama Day -- A short history of desire : Jazz and Bailey's Cafe -- The color of desire : folk history in the fiction of Raymond Andrews -- Postmodern slavery and the transcendence of desire : the novels of Charles Johnson -- Family secrets : reinventions of history in The Chaneysville incident -- Family troubles : history as subversion in Two wings to veil my face and Divine days -- Lost generations : John Edgar Wideman's Homewood narratives -- Apocalyptic visions and false prophets : the end(s) of history in Wideman, Johnson, and Morrison.

With close readings of more than twenty novels by writers including Ernest Gaines, Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, Gloria Naylor, and John Edgar Wideman, Keith Byerman examines the trend among African American novelists of the late twentieth century to write about black history rather than about their own present. Employing cultural criticism and trauma theory, Byerman frames these works as survivor narratives that rewrite the grand American narrative of individual achievement and the march of democracy. The choice to write historical narratives, he says, must be understood historically. These writers earned widespread recognition for their writing in the 1980s, a period of African American commercial success, as well as the economic decline of the black working class and an increase in black-on-black crime. Byerman contends that a shared experience of suffering joins African American individuals in a group identity, and writing about the past serves as an act of resistance against essentialist ideas of black experience shaping the cultural discourse of the present. Byerman demonstrates that these novels disrupt the temptation in American society to engage history only to limit its significance or to crown successful individuals while forgetting the victims. --Publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

This is an ambitious, provocative, and important study. Focusing on what he calls the first generation of black writers to make historical narrative "the dominant mode" in their novels, Byerman (Indiana State Univ.) looks at 21 postmodern works that emphasize the continuity of black history in terms of human suffering, survival, and recovery, and the relationship of past to present. His methodology entails close textual readings, comparisons and contrasts of authors, and application of "trauma theory" and "cultural criticism" (both carefully explained). Byerman divides the book into four sections, the first three "modes of historical representation": memory, desire, and family. Part 1, on memory, looks at Morrison's Beloved, Gaines's A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson before Dying, Sherley Anne Williams's Dessa Rose, and Gloria Naylor's Mama Day. Part 2 (desire) considers Morrison's Jazz, Naylor's Bailey's Cafe, and the work of Raymond Andrews and Charles Johnson; and part 3 (family), Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident, Forrest's Two Wings to Veil My Face and Divine Days, and John Edgar Wideman's Homewood trilogy. In part 4, Byerman raises issues about the future, analyzing apocalyptic visions in Wideman's Cattle Killing (1996), Johnson's Dreaming (1998), and Morrison's Paradise (1998). ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. E. Steiner emerita, Drew University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Keith Byerman is professor of English and women's studies at Indiana State University

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