Professor, English; Emerita
A.B., Pomona College; Ph.D., Harvard University
Appointed In

Research Fields

Jean Wyatt’s main research field is contemporary women writers, with a special focus on African American and Black British women’s writing.

Jean Wyatt’s scholarship, 2017- 2023


Jean Wyatt’s latest book is Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later Novels (U of Georgia Press, 2017). This book was awarded the Toni Morrison Society Book Prize in 2018. Her current project is an edited essay collection, with co-editor Sheldon George, called Experimental Subjectivities in Global Black Women Writers: Race and Narrative Innovation. This collection of essays covers contemporary black women writers in Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and the U K. The book manuscript is in press (Bloomsbury Press, U K, forthcoming 2024.) In 2020, Jean Wyatt and Sheldon George co- edited a collection of essays, Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers: Race, Ethics, Narrative Form (Routledge, 2020). Recent essays include “Freud, Laplanche, Leonardo: Sustaining Enigma” in American Imago 77.2, (2019); and “Dislocating the Reader: Slave Motherhood and the Disrupted Temporality of Trauma in Toni Morrison’s Beloved,” in The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Psychoanalysis (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Jean Wyatt has recently written three essays on Helen Oyeyemi. “Reinventing the Gothic in Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching: Maternal Ethics and Racial Politics” in Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers (Routledge, 2020); “Mirror Mirror: The Visual Economy of Race in Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird (Angelaki 17.6 (November 2022), 83-97; and “Doublings and Dissociation in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird (27.3-4, July 2022). Jean is professor emerita of English at Occidental College.

Jean Wyatt’s books include Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later Novels (2017), Risking Difference: Identification, Race and Community in Contemporary Fiction and Feminism (2004), and Reconstructing Desire: The Role of the Unconscious in Women’s Reading and Writing (1990). She has been honored with the Occidental College Sterling Award for Scholarship and Teaching (2003). And she was awarded the Toni Morrison Book Prize for the Best Single-Authored book on Toni Morrison (2018). She has been appointed a distinguished visiting scholar at the Summer Institute, University of Kansas (2007) and a visiting academic in the English Faculty, Oxford University, U K (2018).


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Areas of research

  • race and gender theory
  • African American women writers
  • contemporary American and British authors
  • psychoanalysis and narrative theory

Selected Publications


Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison's Later Novels. University of Georgia Press, 2017.

Risking Difference: Identification, Race and Community in Contemporary Fiction and Feminism. SUNY Press 2004.

Reconstructing Desire: The Role of the Unconscious in Womens’ Reading and Writing. University of North Carolina Press, 1990. 


"The Economic Grotesque and the Critique of Capitalism in Toni Morrison's Tar Baby. MELUS 39.1 (Spring 2014).

“Failed Messages, Maternal Loss and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.” Modern Fiction Studies 58.1  (Spring 2012).

“Storytelling, Melancholia, and Narrative Structure in Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum.” MELUS 36.1 (Spring 2011).

“Love’s Time and the Reader: Ethical Effects of Nachtraglichkeit in Toni Morrison’s Love.” Narrative 16.2 (May 2008).

“Patricia Hill Collins’s Black Sexual Politics and the Genealogy of the Strong Black Woman.” Studies in Gender and Sexuality 9.1 (Winter 2008).

“The Impossible Project of Love in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, Dirty Hands, and “The Room.” Sartre Studies International 12.2  (November 2006).

“Thinking the Other-Centered Self with Jean Laplanche: The Enigmatic Signifier and its Political Uses.” Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 11.2 (August 2006).

“Signifying Contortions: Disavowal, The Enigmatic Signifier, and George W. Bush’s Credibility After 9/11.” : Special Issue on “9/11, the Iraq War, and the Prospects for Peace.”

International Journal of Applied Psychoanalysis 3.2 (June 2006).

“Jouissance and Desire in Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher.”  American Imago 62.4 (Winter 2005).

"Toward Cross-Race Dialogue: Identification, Misrecognition and Difference in Multicultural Feminist Community.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29.3 (Spring 2004).

Invited papers presented on​ request.