Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $19.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 13%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $19.99   
  • New (4) from $21.69   
  • Used (6) from $19.99   


From Abraham Lincoln's wry observation that Harriet Beecher Stowe was "the little lady who made this big war" to Mark Twain's "wild proposition" that Walter Scott had somehow touched off sectional hostilities, there have been many competing theories about the impact of literature on nineteenth-century American society. In this provocative book, Kenneth W. Warren argues that the rise of literary realism late in the century was shaped by and in turn helped to shape the politics of racial difference following Reconstruction. Taking up a variety of novelists from this period, including most prominently Henry James and William Dean Howells, Warren demonstrates that even works not directly concerned with race were instrumental in forging a Jim Crow nation. As a literary history, Black and White Strangers places the writing of realistic novels within the context of their serialization in the monthly magazines of the 1880s. By viewing these novels in light of editorial policies regarding social propriety, national unity, and literary aesthetics, Warren reveals the often surprising ways in which realistic fiction at once challenged and abetted the growing conservatism of racial politics. Warren also seeks to bridge the gap between American and African-American literary studies, which have hitherto been "strangers" to each other. James and Howells, he argues, can be understood fully only when read alongside W. E. B. Du Bois and Frances E. W. Harper; James's The American Scene, for instance must be seen as a companion text to Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk. In making these connections, Warren challenges American and African-American studies to see themselves as mutually constitutive enterprises and to question the value of canon-based criticism in any complete investigation of the meaning of "race" in American cultural history.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The strangers are not only black and white people, says Warren (English, U. of Chicago) but also American and Afro-American literature. He argues that the rise of literary realism in the late 19th century both shaped and was shaped by the growing politics of racial difference after Reconstruction. He examines novels by Henry James and William Dean Howells, but says they cannot be understood except in conjunction with those by W. E. B. DuBois and Frances E. W. Harper. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226873855
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Series: Black Literature and Culture Series Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Reading Henry James 18
2 Aesthetics, Race, and "Warrants of Decency" 48
3 The Persistence of Uncle Tom and the Problem of Critical Distinction 71
4 Black and White Strangers 109
Conclusion 131
Notes 145
Index 163
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)