Producing American Races

Henry James, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison

Producing American Races

New Americanists

More about this series

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: Published: July 1999

Author: Patricia McKee

American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

In Producing American Races Patricia McKee examines three authors who have powerfully influenced the formation of racial identities in the United States: Henry James, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. Using their work to argue that race becomes visible only through image production and exchange, McKee illuminates the significance that representational practice has had in the process of racial construction.
McKee provides close readings of six novels—James’s The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Light in August, and Morrison’s Sula and Jazz—interspersed with excursions into Lacanian and Freudian theory, critical race theory, epistemology, and theories of visuality. In James and Faulkner, she finds, race is represented visually through media that highlight ways of seeing and being seen. Written in the early twentieth century, the novels of James and Faulkner reveal how whiteness depended on visual culture even before film and television became its predominant media. In Morrison, the culture is aural and oral—and often about the absence of the visual. Because Morrison’s African American communities produce identity in nonvisual, even anti-visual terms, McKee argues, they refute not just white representations of black persons as objects but also visual orders of representation that have constructed whites as subjects and blacks as objects.
With a theoretical approach that both complements and transcends current scholarship about race—and especially whiteness—Producing American Races will engage scholars in American literature, critical race theory, African American studies, and cultural studies. It will also be of value to those interested in the novel as a political and aesthetic form.


“An intricately theorized study of the production of racial difference in canonical U.S. literature. . . . ” — R. R. Warhol, Choice

“For critical readers of Morrison in particular, McKee’s work offers an array of rich and provocative points of departure. Producing American Races opens its own productive views onto the landscape of American social relations and onto the place there of the novel and its modes of perception and response.” — Sara Blair , Modern Philology

"[F]inely wrought analyses. . . .[Has] much to offer all readers concerned with the state of racial politics in the United States. . . . [I]f the tragic events of the last year have taught us anything at all, they have taught us that the United States is in more desperate need than ever of the articulate, passionate, and oppositional intellects one finds so well represented in this . . . fine book." — Harry Stecopoulos , Mississippi Quarterly

“Exceptionally well written, theoretically informed, and astute. A convincing set of readings of American novels that illuminate the relation between visibility and racial identity in U. S. culture.” — Patrick O’Donnell, Michigan State University

“McKee’s intellectually original approach to discussing whiteness puts her book at the cutting edge of contemporary race studies. Her use of familiar novels to talk about race, identity, and complexities of visual culture is provocatively original.” — Robyn Wiegman


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Patricia McKee, Professor of English at Dartmouth College, is the author of Public and Private: Gender, Class, and the British Novel, 1764–1878 and Heroic Commitment in Richardson, Eliot, and James.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2363-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2329-7
Publicity material