Narrative Conventions and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison

Front Cover
Routledge, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 113 pages
0 Reviews

This study analyzes the relationship between race and genre in four of Toni Morrison's novels: The Bluest Eye, Tar Baby, Jazz, and Beloved. Heinert argues how Morrison's novels revise conventional generic forms such as bildungsroman, folktales, slave narratives, and the formal realism of the novel itself. This study goes beyond formalist analyses to show how these revisions expose the relationship between race, conventional generic forms, and the dominant culture. Morrison's revisions critique the conventional roles of African Americans as subjects of and in the genre of the novel, and (re)write roles which instead privilege their subjectivity.

 This study provides readers with new ways of understanding Morrison's novels. Whereas critics often fault Morrison for breaking with traditional forms and resisting resolution in her novels, this analysis show how Morrison's revisions shift the narrative truth of the novel from its representation in conventional forms to its interpretation by the readers, who are responsible for constructing their own resolution or version of narrative truth. These revisions expose how the dominant culture has privileged specific forms of narration; in turn, these forms privilege the values of the dominant culture. Morrison's novels attempt to undermine this privilege and rewrite the canon of American literature.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Jennifer Heinert teaches at the University of Wisconsin - Rock County campus and her research interests include Narrative and Genre Studies, Multicultural Literature, and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 

Bibliographic information