Skip to main content

How Can Fiction Contribute to Critical Race Theory?

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Reshaping Philosophy: Michael Boylan’s Narrative Fiction
  • 121 Accesses


Personal narrative and storytelling have always been key features of Critical Race Theory, that body of legal scholarship focused on the role that structural and institutional racism play in the alienation of persons of color from the protections of the legal liberal order. As Critical Race Theory has expanded from legal theory into philosophy, it has carried with it an openness to interdisciplinary approaches to grappling with the societal problems of race and racism, including using personal narrative, fiction and literature to provide insight into the human cost of these phenomena. Michael Boylan explains the usefulness of fiction to philosophy in his theory of “fictive, narrative philosophy.” Boylan’s Georgia is an instantiation of this theory. Through telling the tale of a racialized male trying to survive in the oppressively racially stratified American landscape of twentieth century America, Georgia operates within the critical race theory tradition and at the same time explores philosophical questions such as the nature of racialized identity and the effects of the social construction of race and institutionalized, systemic racism on the quality of life of the racialized.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Baldwin, James. 1974. If Beale Street could talk. New York: The Dial Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell, Derrick. 1992. The space traders. In Faces at the bottom of the well. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Botts, Tina Fernandes, ed. 2016. Philosophy and the mixed race experience. Lanham: Lexington Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boylan, Michael. 2017. Georgia: A trilogy. Bethesda: PWI Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2018. Fictive narrative philosophy: How fiction can act as philosophy. New York: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Delgado, Richard. 1989. Storytelling for oppositionists and others: A plea for narrative. Michigan Law Review 87 (8): 2411–2441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1995. The Rodrigo chronicles: Chronicles about America and race. New York/London: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. 2017. Critical race theory (third edition): An introduction. New York: New York University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Ellison, Ralph. 1952. Invisible man. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1970. Interviewed by Dorcas Speer at Iowa State University. WOI News. YouTube.

  • George, Janel. 2021. A lesson on critical race theory. Civil Rights Reimagining Policing, American Bar Association Human Rights Magazine, Civil Rights and Social Justice 46 (2)

  • Johnson, James Weldon. 1912. Autobiography of an ex-colored man. Boston: French & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Larsen, Nella. 1929. Passing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morawetz, Thomas. 1999. In “Law and literature” in a companion to philosophy of law and legal theory, ed. Dennis Patterson. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morrison, Toni. 1970. The bluest eye. New York: Rhinehart and Winston.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2009. Law and literature. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Schur, Richard. 2001. The dialogic criticism of Richard Delgado: Chicano/a literature, equality, and the rhetoric form. Law and Inequality 19 (1): 129–158.

    Google Scholar 

  • Valls, Andrew. 2005. Race and racism in modern philosophy. London: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, Richard. 1940. Native son. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yancy, George. 2002. Introduction: Philosophy and the situated narrative self. In The philosophical I: Personal reflections on life in philosophy, ed. George Yancy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tina Fernandes Botts .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Botts, T.F. (2022). How Can Fiction Contribute to Critical Race Theory?. In: Teays, W. (eds) Reshaping Philosophy: Michael Boylan’s Narrative Fiction. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics