"Black, White and in Colour" offers a long-awaited collection of major essays by Hortense Spillers, one of the most influential and inspiring black critics of the past 20 years. Spanning her work from the early 1980s, in which she pioneered a broadly poststructuralist approach to African American literature, and extending through her turn to cultural studies in the 1990s, these essays display her passionate commitment to reading as a fundamentally political act - one pivotal to rewriting the humanist project. Spillers is probably best known for her race-centred revision of psychoanalytic theory and for her subtle account of the relationships between race and gender. She has also given literary criticism some of its most powerful readings of individual authors, represented here in seminal essays on Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Faulkner. Other essays such as "Who Cuts the Border?" consider the effect of migration on the black cultural experience. "Moving on Down the Line" opens a fascinating window onto the African American sermon. "A Hateful Passion, a Lost Love" contrasts fiction by Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurtston and Margaret Walker.
A new preface and introduction that appear here for the first time trace the trajectory of the author's career and point the way toward new lines of inquiry. Ultimately, the essays collected in "Black, White and in Colour" all share Spillers's signature style: heady, eclectic, and astonishingly productive of new ideas. Anyone interested in African American culture and literature should want to read them.