Jean Toomer's "Cane" was advertised as "a book about Negroes by a Negro," despite his request not to promote the book along such racial lines. Nella Larsen switched the title of her second novel from "Nig" to "Passing," because an editor felt the original title "might be too inflammatory." In order to publish his first novel as a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection Richard Wright deleted a scene in "Native Son" depicting Bigger Thomas masturbating. Toni Morrison changed the last word of "Beloved" at her editor's request and switched the title of "Paradise" from "War" to allay her publisher's marketing concerns. Although many editors place demands on their authors, these examples invite special scholarly attention given the power imbalance between white editors and publishers and African American authors. "Black Writers, White Publishers: Marketplace Politics in Twentieth-Century African American Literature" examines the complex negotiations behind the production of African American literature. In chapters on Larsen's "Passing," Ishmael Reed's "Mumbo Jumbo," Gwendolyn Brooks's "Children Coming Home," Morrison's "Oprah's Book Club" selections, and Ralph Ellison's "Juneteenth," John K. Young presents the first book-length application of editorial theory to African American literature. Focusing on the manuscripts, drafts, book covers, colophons, and advertisements that trace book production, Young expands upon the concept of socialized authorship and demonstrates how the study of publishing history and practice and African American literary criticism enrich each other. John K. Young is an associate professor of English at Marshall University. His work has appeared in journals such as "College English," "African American Review," and "Critique."
Black on Black provides the first comprehensive analysis of the modern African American literary response to Africa, from W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk to Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Combining cutting-edge theory, extensive historical and archival research, and close readings of individual texts, Gruesser reveals the diversity of the African American response to Countee Cullen's question, "What is Africa to Me?" John Gruesser uses the concept of Ethiopianism--the biblically inspired belief that black Americans would someday lead Africans and people of the diaspora to a bright future--to provide a framework for his study. Originating in the eighteenth century and inspiring religious and political movements throughout the 1800s, Ethiopianism dominated African American depictions of Africa in the first two decades of the twentieth century, particularly in the writings of Du Bois, Sutton Griggs, and Pauline Hopkins. Beginning with the Harlem Renaissance and continuing through the Italian invasion and occupation of Ethiopia, however, its influence on the portrayal of the continent slowly diminished. Ethiopianism's decline can first be seen in the work of writers closely associated with the New Negro Movement, including Alain Locke and Langston Hughes, and continued in the dramatic work of Shirley Graham, the novels of George Schuyler, and the poetry and prose of Melvin Tolson. The final rejection of Ethiopianism came after the dawning of the Cold War and roughly coincided with the advent of postcolonial Africa in works by authors such as Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, and Alice Walker.
A major new history of the literary traditions, oral and print, of African-descended peoples in the United States.
In this volume, Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody-Turner have compiled a collection of essays that offer access to some of the most innovative contemporary black fiction while addressing important issues in current African American literary studies. Distinguished scholars Houston Baker, Trudier Harris, Darryl Dickson-Carr, and Maryemma Graham join writers and younger scholars to explore the work of Toni Morrison, Edward P. Jones, Trey Ellis, Paul Beatty, Mat Johnson, Kyle Baker, Danzy Senna, Nikki Turner, and many others. The collection is bracketed by a foreword by novelist and graphic artist Mat Johnson, one of the most exciting and innovative contemporary African American writers, and an afterword by Alice Randall, author of the controversial parody The Wind Done Gone. Together, King and Moody-Turner make the case that diversity, innovation, and canon expansion are essential to maintaining the vitality of African American literary studies.
Poetic sketches and stories stemming from the Harlem Renaissance author's teaching experience in rural Georgia communicate his feelings about nature's beauty and man's greed and bigotry
In A History of the University Presses in Apartheid South Africa, Elizabeth le Roux examines the origins, publishing lists and philosophies of the university presses, as well as academic freedom and knowledge production, during the apartheid era.
African American writers have consistently drawn connections between hunger and illiteracy, and by extension between food and reading. This book investigates the juxtaposition of mulnutrition and spectacular food abundance as a key trope of African American writing.
A detailed work that weaves the histories of different magazines and their various strands of black political thought in this century, proving the claim that black magazines, in providing outlets for black writers and recording their concerns, are therefore historical documents in their own right.
In this thought-provoking volume, David R. Roediger has brought together some of the most important black writers throughout history to explore the question: What does it really mean to be white in America? From folktales and slave narratives to contemporary essays, poetry, and fiction, black writers have long been among America's keenest students of white consciousness and white behavior, but until now much of this writing has been ignored. Black on White reverses this trend by presenting the work of more than fifty major figures, including James Baldwin, Derrick Bell, Ralph Ellison, W.E.B. Du Bois, bell hooks, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker to take a closer look at the many meanings of whiteness in our society. Rich in irony, artistry, passion, and common sense, these reflections on what Langston Hughes called "the ways of white folks" illustrate how whiteness as a racial identity derives its meaning not as a biological category but as a social construct designed to uphold racial inequality. Powerful and compelling, Black on White provides a much-needed perspective that is sure to have a major impact on the study of race and race relations in America. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Harlem riot of 1935 not only signaled the end of the Harlem Renaissance; it made black America's cultural capital an icon for the challenges of American modernity. Luring photographers interested in socially conscious, journalistic, and aesthetic representation, post-Renaissance Harlem helped give rise to America's full-blown image culture and its definitive genre, documentary. The images made there in turn became critical to the work of black writers seeking to reinvent literary forms. Harlem Crossroads is the first book to examine their deep, sustained engagements with photographic practices. Arguing for Harlem as a crossroads between writers and the image, Sara Blair explores its power for canonical writers, whose work was profoundly responsive to the changing meanings and uses of photographs. She examines literary engagements with photography from the 1930s to the 1970s and beyond, among them the collaboration of Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava, Richard Wright's uses of Farm Security Administration archives, James Baldwin's work with Richard Avedon, and Lorraine Hansberry's responses to civil rights images. Drawing on extensive archival work and featuring images never before published, Blair opens strikingly new views of the work of major literary figures, including Ralph Ellison's photography and its role in shaping his landmark novel Invisible Man, and Wright's uses of camera work to position himself as a modernist and postwar writer. Harlem Crossroads opens new possibilities for understanding the entangled histories of literature and the photograph, as it argues for the centrality of black writers to cultural experimentation throughout the twentieth century.
Warren argues, quite bluntly, that “African American literature” has outlived its relevance as the dominant category for poetry, fiction, and plays written by African Americans. Contradicting an influential portion of the field, which regards this literature as an emanation of vernacular expression going back to slavery, and even to Africa, Warren asserts that African American literature was the body of literature and criticism written by black Americans within and against the strictures of Jim Crow America. In arguing against the continued relevance of the category of African American literature, Warren is certainly not claiming that racism has ceased to exist. Rather, he says that while it continues to make a great difference in African American life, other social and political factors weigh heavily also - so much so that categories which take race as the fundamental unifying category of black expression no longer serve well in meeting the challenges of the moment. In this respect, Warren shows that “African American literature” is a category that has not sufficiently adjusted with our current material and ideological circumstances to warrant claims to a changing present or a provisional futurity. Warren argues that the presumptions and protocols of the category remain ossified within the past, within a definition that only shows how its primary arbiters and practitioners were themselves ossified as contradictory or compromised men of their time.
Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets, a genre that until now has not commonly been counted as one in which African American poets have participated. Black poets have a long tradition of incorporating treatments of the natural world into their work, but it is often read as political, historical, or protest poetry--anything but nature poetry. This is particularly true when the definition of what constitutes nature writing is limited to work about the pastoral or the wild. Camille T. Dungy has selected 180 poems from 93 poets that provide unique perspectives on American social and literary history to broaden our concept of nature poetry and African American poetics. This collection features major writers such as Phillis Wheatley, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling Brown, Robert Hayden, Wanda Coleman, Natasha Trethewey, and Melvin B. Tolson as well as newer talents such as Douglas Kearney, Major Jackson, and Janice Harrington. Included are poets writing out of slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century African American poetic movements. Black Nature brings to the fore a neglected and vital means of considering poetry by African Americans and nature-related poetry as a whole. A Friends Fund Publication.
"This is a marvelous and sustained discussion of 'faithful vision' and its significant influence on African American literature." -- American Literature In Faithful Vision, James W. Coleman places under his critical lens a wide array of African American novels written during the last half of the twentieth century. In doing so, he demonstrates that religious vision not only informs black literature but also serves as a foundation for black culture generally. The Judeo-Christian tradition, according to Coleman, is the primary component of the African American spiritual perspective, though its syncretism with voodoo/hoodoo -- a religion transported from West Africa through the West Indies and New Orleans to the rest of black America -- also figures largely. Reviewing novels written mainly since 1950 by writers including James Baldwin, Randall Kenan, Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Erna Brodber, and Ishmael Reed, among others, Coleman explores how black authors have addressed the relevance of faith, especially as it relates to an oppressive Christian tradition. He shows that their novels -- no matter how critical of the sacred or supernatural, or how skeptical the characters' viewpoints -- ultimately never reject the vision of faith. With its focus on religious experience and tradition and its wider discussion of history, philosophy, gender, and postmodernism, Faithful Vision brings a bold critical dimension to African American literary studies. "An insightful interrogation of the complexities of religious discourse in the African American literary tradition. Because it superbly translates complex spiritual ethos into literary tradition, this remarkable book is a must for anyone interested in intersections of the sacred and the secular in black cultural productions." -- Southern Literary Journal "Faithful Vision both looks intently into faith and shows us how to look." -- Christianity and Literature
The extensive influence of the creative traditions derived from slave culture, particularly black folklore, in the work of nineteenth- and twentieth-century black authors, such as Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison, has become a hallmark of African American scholarship. Yet similar inquiries regarding white authors adopting black aesthetic techniques have been largely overlooked. Gretchen Martin examines representative nineteenth-century works to explore the influence of black-authored (or narrated) works on well-known white-authored texts, particularly the impact of black oral culture evident by subversive trickster figures in John Pendleton Kennedy’s Swallow Barn, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, Joel Chandler Harris’s short stories, as well as Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Pudd’nhead Wilson. As Martin indicates, such white authors show themselves to be savvy observers of the many trickster traditions and indeed a wide range of texts suggest stylistic and aesthetic influences representative of the artistry, subversive wisdom, and subtle humor in these black figures of ridicule, resistance, and repudiation. The black characters created by these white authors are often dismissed as little more than limited, demeaning stereotypes of the minstrel tradition, yet by teasing out important distinctions between the wisdom and humor signified by trickery rather than minstrelsy, Martin probes an overlooked aspect of the nineteenth-century American literary canon and reveals the extensive influence of black aesthetics on some of the most highly regarded work by white American authors.
Ever since Bessie Smith’s powerful voice conspired with the “race records” industry to make her a star in the 1920s, African American writers have memorialized the sounds and theorized the politics of black women’s singing. In Black Resonance, Emily J. Lordi analyzes writings by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Gayl Jones, and Nikki Giovanni that engage such iconic singers as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, and Aretha Franklin. Focusing on two generations of artists from the 1920s to the 1970s, Black Resonance reveals a musical-literary tradition in which singers and writers, faced with similar challenges and harboring similar aims, developed comparable expressive techniques. Drawing together such seemingly disparate works as Bessie Smith’s blues and Richard Wright’s neglected film of Native Son, Mahalia Jackson’s gospel music and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, each chapter pairs one writer with one singer to crystallize the artistic practice they share: lyricism, sincerity, understatement, haunting, and the creation of a signature voice. In the process, Lordi demonstrates that popular female singers are not passive muses with raw, natural, or ineffable talent. Rather, they are experimental artists who innovate black expressive possibilities right alongside their literary peers. The first study of black music and literature to centralize the music of black women, Black Resonance offers new ways of reading and hearing some of the twentieth century’s most beloved and challenging voices.
"In a stunning revision of radical politics during the Popular Front period, Bill Mullen redefines the cultural renaissance of the 1930s and early 1940s as the fruit of an extraordinary rapprochement between African-American and white members of the U.S. Left struggling to create a new ""American Negro"" culture.A dynamic reappraisal of a critical moment in American cultural history,Popular Frontsincludes a major reassessment of the politics of Richard Wright's critical reputation, a provocative reading of class struggle in Gwendolyn Brooks'sA Street in Bronzeville, and in-depth examinations of the institutions that comprised Chicago's black popular front: theChicago Defender, the period's leading black newspaper;Negro Story, the first magazine devoted to publishing short stories by and about black Americans; and the WPA-sponsored South Side Community Art Center."
The Black community has historically suffered stasis on the political level. W.E.B. Du Bois originally identified the source of the stasis as a contradiction of political goals within individuals and Black culture. During the last century, the development of African American political organizations has institutionalized this -contradiction of double aims-. That institutionalization is largely due to the energy and resources of two distinct and often contradicting political traditions - Black nationalism and the Black American Jeremiad. It is within a third tradition, Black cultural pluralism, that a possible discourse exists that can address the stasis within the Black community. This book attempts to reconstruct the development of this third tradition and posits it as the most viable source of Black political development."