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Palgrave Macmillan

From Uncle Tom's Cabin to The Help

Critical Perspectives on White-Authored Narratives of Black Life

ISBN 9781137446251
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

While narratives films such as The Help, Django Unchained, and The Blind Side have achieved popular acclaim, they have also been the subject of critical controversy, demonstrating that the much touted 'post-racial America' has yet to come to terms with the power of race in contemporary imaginative and social lives. Examining a wide range of texts and film this collection of essays boldly investigates the promise and perils of racial ventriloquism, that is, when white authors appropriate the history and stories of black life.

Claire Oberon Garcia is Professor of English and Director of the Race and Ethnic Studies Program at Colorado College, USA. Her areas of interest include black women's writing, the Black Atlantic, and the New Negro and Negritude Movements. She has contributed articles to journals such as The International Journal of Francophone Studies and The Henry James Review.

Vershawn Ashanti Young is a member of the Faculty of Arts, in the Department of Drama and Speech Communication at the University of Waterloo, Canada. His scholarly areas of expertise fall within the domains of African American language, literature, performance studies/performance theory, and gender. He has published in such journals as PMLA and African American Review and has either authored or edited (both individually and collaboratively) seven books, including the recent Other People's English (2013).

Charise Pimentel is an Assistant Professor at Texas State University in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, USA. Her research focuses on social justice issues in the following areas: race and education, multicultural education, bilingual education, critical media literacy, and critical whiteness studies. She has published in the Journal of Latinos and Education, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Multicultural Education, and Multicultural Perspectives.

Introduction: What's at Stake When White Writes Black?; Claire Oberon Garcia, Vershawn Ashanti Young, Charise Pimentel
1. Bearing Witness?: The Problem with the White Cross-Racial (Mis)Portrayals of History; Luminita Dragulescu
2. 'Must the Novelist Ask Permission?': Authority and Authenticity of the Black Voice in the works of Eudora Welty and Kathryn Stockett's The Help; Ebony Lumumba
3. 'Blackness as Medium: Envisioning White Southern Womanhood in Eudora Welty's 'A Worn Path' and Delta Wedding and Kathryn Stockett's The Help; Elizabeth J. West
4. 'Taking care a white babies, that's what I do': The Help and Americans' Obsession with the Mammy; Katrina Thompson
5. 'When folks is real friends, there ain't no such thing as place': Feminist Sisterhood and the Politics of Social Hierarchy in The Help; Shana Russell
6. Black Girlhood and The Help: Constructing Black Girlhood in a 'Post' -Racial, -Gender and Welfare State; Julia S. Jordan-Zachery
7. Second (and Third, and Fourth…) Helpings: Black Women, Size, and Spectacle in The Help; Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
8. Mae Mallory and 'The Southern Belle Fantasy Trope' at The Cuyahoga County Jail 21st and Payne PAIN.; Paula Marie Seniors
9. 'Bleeping Mark Twain?': Censorship, Huckleberry Finn, and the Functions of Literature; Robert T. Tally, Jr.
10. White Lies & Black Consequences: Margaret Jones and the Complex Dynamics of the Publishing Industry; Josephine Metcalf
11. 'A Secondhand Kind of Terror': Grace Hasell, Kathryn Stockett, and the Ironies of Empathy; Alsiha Gaines
12. 'Saviour' Good Mother, Jezebel, Tom, Trickster: The Blind Side Myth; Pearlie Strother-Adams
13. Blindsided by Racism: A Critical Analysis of The Blind Side; Charise Pimentel and Sarah Santíllanes
14. Django Unchained: An Analysis; Karen A. Johnson
15. Are the Kids All Right? : A look at Post-Racial Presentations in The Kids are All Right; Jenise Hudson
Afterword: Manufactured Maids, Mammies and Falsified History: No White Help Wanted or Needed; Maulana Karenga

Alisha Gaines, Florida State University, USA

Luminita Dragulescu, Virginia Union University, USA

Julia Jordan-Zachery, Providence College, USA

Sarah Leah Santíllanes, University of New Mexico, USA
Jenise Hudson, Florida State University, USA
Karen A. Johnson, University of Utah, USA
Ebony Lumumba, University of Mississippi, USA
Josephine Metcalf, University of Hull, UK
Shana Russell, Rutgers University-Newark, USA
Paula Marie Seniors, Virginia Tech University, USA
Pearlie Strother-Adams, Western Illinois University, USA
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Williams College, USA
Robert T. Tally, Jr., Texas State University, USA
Katrina D. Thompson, Saint Louis University, USA
Elizabeth J. West, Georgia State University, USA


"A timely examination of 'racial ventriloquism' in the United States." - Southern World Arts News
"Using as an incisive point of interrogation numerous essays on the controversial book and film, The Help, Garcia, Pimentel, and Young have assembled a diverse range of essays that interrogate the political, social, class and gender assumptions cogent to 21st-Century representations of black identity. Engaging several exemplary texts by white authors, this book provides valuable perspectives on the virtues and limitations of fictional Otherness." - Alan Nadel, William T. Bryan Professor of American Studies, University of Kentucky, USA and author of Invisible Criticism: Ralph Ellison and the American Canon "From Uncle Tom's Cabin to The Help is a penetrating examination of the fictive pervasiveness of white authorial narratives that obfuscate the complexity of Black folks and their humanity. It does so by exposing the way these dominant authorial narratives reify whiteness by making it the symbolic center through which writers misconfigure Blackness and race in the literary and popular imagination. This interdisciplinary volume moves the conversation on race and cultural production forward, while imagining how readers and spectators might develop a critical consciousness about the racialized scripts many of us fall prey to or perpetuate in our everyday lives." - Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Iowa, USA
"Historical hindsight allows us to see the critical role that twentieth century image-marketing of 'Aunt Jemimas' and 'Uncle Bens' played in constituting a new, white middle class family and, thereby, nation. What became commonly known as a 'slave in a box,' that seemingly benign box of pancake and/or rice mix signified the labor of black servants and the endurance of white superiority. White families, especially white housewives, could buy these products and with them, the fantasy of being a mistress/master again to a house full of slave labor. The authors in From Uncle Tom's Cabin to The Help: Critical Perspectives on White-Authored Narratives of Black Life compellingly reveal the ideological apparatus that the twenty-first century offers us with the newest image-marketing of these dominant tropes. Claire Oberon Garcia, Vershawn Ashanti Young, and Charise Pimentel have organized a compelling collection that ushers in necessary foresight into images of black servitude that are, once again, mobilized for racial/sexual hierarchies foundational to a nation re-situating itself in a new century." - Carmen Kynard, Associate Professor of English, John Jay College, CUNY, USA
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