Heather Russell (Professor of English, Florida International University)
February 25, 2016
Since its publication in 1970, The Bluest Eye has remained a literary classic, a staple taught in classrooms across the country. The first novel to powerfully depict what “that race thing feels like” from the perspective of a little black girl who longs for blue eyes during the racist, sexist climate of 1940s Ohio, the novel shattered many a silence. How did the bourgeoning black feminist consciousness of the 1970s set the stage for its publication? How did the novel revolutionize the fictional portrayal of young, black, working class, adolescents? How do the themes of invisibility, silence, and speech play out in the novel? Is the novel a bildungsroman or, as several critics have claimed, an anti-bildungsroman? How does it disrupt the concept of “master narratives”?