Valerie Smith is the author of more than 40 articles and three books on African American literature, culture, film, and photography and is the editor or co-editor of seven volumes, including most recently The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, third edition, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Race and Real Estate, with Adrienne Brown (forthcoming from Oxford University Press). Please see her curriculum vitae for a full list of her publications.
Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative (Harvard University Press, 1987).
In this book, Smith examines various parallels between the slave narrative and more recent black American fiction. For the slave narrators as for the narrator-protagonists of such 20th-century Afro-American novels as Wright's Native Son, Ellison's Invisible Man, and Morrison's Song of Solomon, the act of telling their own stories enables them to "affirm and legitimize their psychological autonomy."
Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings (Routledge, 1998).
From the 19th century articulations of Sojourner Truth to contemporary thinkers like Patricia J. Williams, Black feminists have always recognized the mutual dependence of race and gender. Detailing these connections, Smith explores the myriad ways race and gender shape lives and social practices. Resisting essentialist tendencies, she identifies black feminist theorizing as a strategy of reading rather than located in a particular subjective experience.
Toni Morrison: Writing the Moral Imagination (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).
In this study, Smith explores the links between the Nobel laureate’s aesthetic practice and her political vision. She analyzes Morrison’s celebrated fiction in relation to her critical writing about the process of reading and writing literature, the relationship between readers and writers, and the cultural contributions of African-American literature. She also includes extended analyses of Morrison’s lesser-known works, her most recent novels and books for children, as well as the key texts.