Co-published by Routledge and Edition Synapse
Although there are any number of single-volume anthologies on individual writers and movements (e.g. the Harlem Renaissance), African American Writing is the first multi-volume collection to provide users with full coverage of a crucial literary tradition, a tradition that now spans slave texts to novels by Nobel Prize-winning authors, and which is, in the learned editor’s words, ‘intrinsic to America’s self-articulation’.
As serious scholarly work on and around the literary output of African Americans flourishes as never before, this new five-volume collection, co-published by Routledge and Edition Synapse, meets the need for an authoritative reference work to help users navigate and make sense of the subject’s vast literature and the continuing explosion in research output.
African American Writing is edited by A. Robert Lee, formerly Professor of American Literature at Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan. His expert selection brings together the best and most influential critical assessments, evaluations, and other scholarship in one easy-to-use ‘mini library’. The set includes a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context, as well as detailed bibliographies and timelines. It is destined to be valued by researchers and students as an essential work of reference.
The editor of this collection, A. Robert Lee, is a leading expert in the field. His Multicultural American Literature: Comparative Black, Native, Latino/a and Asian American Fictions (2003) won the American Book Award in 2001. His recent work includes Modern American Counter Writing: Beats, Outriders, Ethnics (Routledge, 2010) and a four-volume collection on Native American Writing (Routledge and Edition Synapse, 2011).
Part 1: African American Literary-Cultural Statements
1. Frederick Douglass, ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ An Address Delivered in Rochester, New York, on 5 July 1852 (Independence Day Speech delivered to the Anti-Slavery Sewing Society).
2. Alain Locke, ‘The New Negro’, in Alain Locke (ed.), The New Negro (Albert and Charles Boni, 1925), pp. 3–25.
3. Langston Hughes, ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’, The Nation, 23 June 1926, 122, 692–4.
4. W. E. B. Dubois, ‘Criteria for Negro Art’, Crisis, October 1926, 32, 290–7.
5. Charles W. Chesnutt, ‘Post-bellum—Pre-Harlem’, The Colophon, February 1931, 38, 193–4.
6. Zora Neale Hurston, ‘How it Feels to be Colored Me’, The World Tomorrow, May 1928.
7. Ralph Ellison, ‘The World and the Jug’, Shadow and Act (Random House, 1964), pp. 107–43.
8. James Baldwin, ‘Many Thousands Gone’, Partisan Review, November–December 1951, 18, 665–80.
9. Arthur P. Davis, ‘Integration and Race Literature’, The American Negro Writer and His Roots: Selected Papers from the First Conference of Negro Writers, March 1959 (New York, 1960), pp. 34–40.
10. LeRoi Jones, ‘The Myth of a "Negro Literature"’, Home: Social Essays (William Morrow, 1966), pp. 105–15.
11. Chester Himes, ‘Dilemma of the Negro Novelist in the United States’, in John A. Williams (ed.), Beyond the Angry Black (Cooper Square Publishers, 1966), pp. 52–8.
12. Ishmael Reed, ‘Introduction: The Reed Reader’, The Reed Reader (Basic Books, 2000), pp. xi–xxx.
13. Alice Walker, ‘If the Present Looks Like the Past, What Does the Future Look Like?’, In Search of Our Mothers’s Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1983), pp. 290–312.
14. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ‘"What’s in a Name?" Some Meanings of Blackness’, Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 131–51
Part 2: Overviews
15. A. Robert Lee, ‘Harlem on My Mind: Fictions of a Black Metropolis’, in Graham Clarke (ed.), The American City: Literary and Cultural Perspectives (London: Vision Press, 1988), pp. 62–5.
16. Houston A. Baker, Jr., ‘In Our Own Time: The Florescence of Nationalism in the Sixties and Seventies’, The Journey Back: Issues in Black Literature and Criticism (University of Chicago Press, 1970), pp. 77–131.
17. Barbara Christian, ‘Trajectories of Self-definition: Placing Contemporary Afro-American Women’s Fiction’, in Marjorie Pryse and Hortense J. Spillers (eds.), Conjuring: Black Women, Fiction, and Literary Tradition (Indiana University Press, 1985), pp. 232–48.
Part 3: Theory Perspectives
18. Addison Gayle Jr., ‘The Black Aesthetic: Introduction’, in Addison Gayle, Jr. (ed.), The Black Aesthetic (Doubleday, 1971), pp. xv–xxiv.
19. Larry Neal, ‘The Black Arts Movement’, The Drama Review, Summer 1968, 12, 4, 19–39.
20. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ‘The Blackness of Blackness: a Critique of the Sign and the Signifying Monkey’, in Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (ed.), Black Literature & Literary Theory (Methuen, 1984), pp. 285–321.
21. Karla F. C. Holloway, ‘The Idea of Ancestry: African-American Writers’, Moorings & Metaphors: Figures of Culture and Gender in Black Women’s Literature (Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 113–40.
Part 4: Oral Tradition and Legacy
22. Sterling Stuckey, ‘Through the Prism of Folklore: The Black Ethos in Slavery’, Massachusetts Review, Summer 1968, IX, 3, 417–37.
23. Houston A. Baker, Jr., ‘Black Folklore and the Black American Literary Tradition’, Long Black Song: Essays in Black American Literature and Culture (University Press of Virginia, 1972), pp. 18–41.
Part 5: Literary Critique and Slavery Studies
24. Mary F. Berry and John W. Blassingame, ‘Africa, Slavery, & The Roots of Contemporary Black Culture’, in Michael S. Harper and Robert B. Stepto (eds.), Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Literature, Arts and Scholarship (University of Illinois Press, 1979), pp. 241–56.
25. Robert B. Stepto, ‘I Rose and Found My Voice: Narration, Authentication, and Authorial Control in Four Slave Narratives’, From Behind the Veil: A Study of Afro-American Narrative (University of Illinois Press, 1979), pp. 3–31.
26. Valerie Smith, ‘Form and Ideology in Three Slave Narratives’, Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative (Harvard University Press, 1987), pp. 9–43.
27. Sandi Russell, ‘Out of Slavery’, Render Me My Song: African-American Writers from Slavery to the Present (St. Martin’s Press, 1990), 1–19.
Part 6: Early and Reconstruction African American Texts
28. Mary McAleer Balkun, ‘Phillis Wheatley’s Construction of Otherness and the Rhetoric of Performed Ideology’, African American Review, 2002, 36, 1, 121–35.
29. Lois Leveen, ‘Dwelling in the House of Oppression: The Spatial, Racial, and Textual Dynamics of Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig’, African American Review, 2001, 35, 4, 561–80.
30. Rebecca Skidmore Biggio, ‘The Specter of Conspiracy in Martin Delaney’s Blake’, African American Review, 2008, 42, 3–4, 439–54.
31. Ladell Payne, ‘Trunk and Branch: Charles Waddell Chesnutt, 1858–1932’, Black Novelists and the Southern Literary Tradition (University of Georgia Press, 1981), pp. 9–25.
32. Jane Campbell, ‘A Necessary Ambivalence: Sutton Griggs’s Imperium in Imperio and Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition’, Mythic Black Fiction: The Transformation of History (University of Tennessee Press, 1986), pp. 42–63.
33. Lilliam S. Robinson and Greg Robinson, ‘Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Credit to His Race?’, African American Review, 2007, 41, 2, 215–25.
34. Claudia Tate, ‘Pauline Hopkins: Our Literary Foremother’, in Marjorie Pryse and Hortense J. Spillers (eds.), Conjuring: Black Women, Fiction, and Literary Tradition (Indiana University Press, 1985), pp. 53–66.
35. Sandra Adell, ‘The Souls of Black Folk: Reading Across the Color Line’, Double Consciousness/Double Bind (University of Illinois Press, 1994), pp. 11–28.
Part 7: New Negro and Harlem Renaissance
36. Heather Russell Andrade, ‘Revising Critical Judgments of The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man’, African American Review, 2006, 40, 2, 257–70.
37. Karl Henzy, ‘Langston Hughes’s Poems and the Metaphysics of Simplicity’, Callaloo, 2011, 34, 3, 915–27.
38. Arna Bontemps, ‘The Negro Renaissance: Jean Toomer and the Harlem Writers of the 1920s’, in Herbert Hill (ed.), Anger and Beyond (Harper and Row, 1966), pp. 20–36.
39. William C. Fischer, ‘The Aggregate Man in Jean Toomer’s Cane’, Studies in the Novel, Summer 1971, 3, 2, 190–215.
40. Darwin T. Turner, ‘Countee Cullen: the Lost Ariel’, In a Minor Chord: Three Afro-American Writers and Their Search for Identity (Southern Illinois University Press, 1971), pp. 60–120.
41. Catherine Rottenberg, ‘Writing from the Margins of the Margins: Michael Gold’s Jews Without Money and Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem’, MELUS, Spring 2010, 35, 1, 119–40.
42. Sharon L. Jones, ‘"How It Feels to Be Colored Me": Social Protest in the Fiction of Zora Neale Hurston’, Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West (Greenwood Press, 2002), pp. 67–116.
43. Mary Conde, ‘Passing in the Fiction of Jessie Redmon Fauset and Nella Larsen’, The Yearbook of English Studies, 1994, 24, 94–104.
44. Stephen P. Knadler, ‘Sweetback Style: Wallace Thurman and a Queer Harlem Renaissance’, Modern Fiction Studies, Winter 2002, 48, 2, 899–936.
Part 8: Richard Wright, Chester Himes, Ann Petry, Frank Yerby, Margaret Walker, and John A. Williams
45. A. Robert Lee, ‘Richard Wright’s Inside Narratives’, in Richard Gray (ed.), American Fiction: New Readings (Vision Press, 1983), pp. 200–21.
46. Kevin Bell, ‘Assuming the Position: Fugivity and Futurity in the Work of Chester Himes’, Modern Fiction Studies, Winter 2005, 51, 4, 846–72.
47. Evie Shockley, ‘Buried Alive: Gothic Homelessness, Black Women’s Sexuality, and (Living) Death in Ann Petry’s The Street’, African American Review, 40, 3, 2006, 439–60.
48. Stephanie Brown, ‘Frank Yerby and the "Costume Drama" of Southern Historiography’, The Postwar African American Novel: Protest and Discontent, 1945–1950 (University Press of Mississippi, 2011), pp. 67–98.
49. Minrose C. Gwin, ‘Margaret Walker’s Jubilee: The Black Woman’s Celebration of Human Community’, in Marjorie Pryse and Hortense J. Spillers (eds.), Conjuring: Black Women, Fiction, and Literary Tradition (Indiana University Press, 1985), 132–50.
50. Matthew Calihman, ‘Black Power beyond Black Nationalism: John A. Williams, Cultural Pluralism, and the Popular Front’, MELUS, Spring 2009, 34, 1, 139–62.
Part 9: Ellison and Baldwin
51. John F. Callahan, ‘Frequencies of Eloquence: The Performance and Composition of Invisible Man’, In the African-American Grain: Call-and-Response in Twentieth-Century Black Fiction, 2nd edn. (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), pp. 150–88.
52. Christopher Z. Hobson, ‘Ralph Ellison, Juneteenth, and African American Prophecy’, Modern Fiction Studies, Fall 2005, 51, 3, 617–47.
53. Lawrie Balfour, ‘Finding the Words: Baldwin, Race Consciousness, and Democratic Theory’, in Dwight A. McBride (ed.), James Baldwin Now (New York University Press, 1999), pp. 75–99.
54. Carol E. Henderson, ‘Refiguring the Flesh: The Word, the Body, and the Rituals of Being in Beloved and Go Tell It On The Mountain’, in Lovalerie King and Lynn Orilla Scott (eds.), James Baldwin and Toni Morrison: Comparative Critical and Theoretical Essays (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 149–65.
Part 10: Modern African American Fiction
55. Justine Tally, ‘The Morrison Trilogy’, in Justine Tally (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison (Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 74–91.
56. Maria Lauret, ‘The Color Purple’, Alice Walker (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), pp. 90–120.
57. Keith E. Byerman, ‘Women’s Blues: The Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara and Alice Walker’, Fingering the Jagged Grain: Tradition and Form in Recent Black Fiction (University of Georgia Press, 1985), pp. 104–70.
58. E. Shelley Reid, ‘Beyond Morrison and Walker: Looking Good and Looking Forward in Contemporary Black Women’s Stories’, African American Review, 2000, 24, 2, 313–28.
59. Pierre-Damian Mvuekure, ‘American Neo-Hoodooism: the Novels of Ishmael Reed’, in Maryemma Graham (ed.), Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel (University of Cambridge Press, 2004), pp. 203–20.
60. Missy Dehn Kubisschek, ‘Paule Marshall’s Witness to History’, Claiming the Heritage: Women Novelists and History (University Press of Mississippi, 2001), pp. 69–89.
61. Charles H. Rowell, ‘The Quarters: Ernest Gaines and the Sense of Place’, in James Olney (ed.), Afro-American Writing Today: An Anniversary Edition of the Southern Review (Louisiana State University Press, 1983), pp. 146–63.
62. Cheryl A. Wall, ‘Gloria Naylor’s Extending the Line: From Sula to Mama Day’, Callaloo, 2000, 23, 4, 1449–63.
63. Philip Page, ‘"As Within, So it is Without": The Composite Self in Charles Johnson’s Oxherding Tale and Middle Passage’, Reclaiming Community in Contemporary African American Fiction (University Press of Mississippi, 1999), pp. 116–56.
64. Ashraf H. A. Rushdy, ‘The Iron Fettered Weight of all Civilization: The Project of Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Narratives of Slavery’, Callaloo, 2009, 32, 3, 758–72.
65. Marc Steinberg, ‘Inverting History in Octavia Butler’s Postmodern Slave Narrative’, African American Review, 2004, 38, 3, 467–76.
66. Daniel Grassian, ‘Trey Ellis’, Writing The Future of Black America: Literature of the Hip-Hop Generation (University of South Carolina Press, 2009), pp. 19–43.
67. Tara T. Green, ‘"When the Women Tell Stories": Healing in Edwidge Dantikat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory’, in Dana A. Williams (ed.), Contemporary African American Fiction: New Critical Essays (Ohio State University Press, 2009), pp. 82–98.
68. Jon Wallace, ‘The Politics of Style in Three Stories by James Alan McPherson’, Modern Fiction Studies, Spring 1998, 34, 1, 17–26.
Part 11: Modern African American Poetry
69. George Kent, ‘Gwendolyn Brooks’ Poetic Realism: A Developmental Survey’, in Mari Evans (ed.), Black Women Writers (1950–1980): A Critical Evaluation (Anchor Books, 1973), pp. 88–107.
70. Aldon L. Neilsen, ‘Melvin B. Tolson and the Deterritorialization of Modernism’, Writing Between the Lines: Race & Intertextuality (University of Georgia Press, 1994), pp. 48–70.
71. Michael Harper, ‘Every Shut-Eye Aint Asleep/Every Good-bye Aint Gone, Robert Hayden (1913–1990)’, Obsidian: Black Literature in Review, 1981, 8, 1, 9–15.
72. W. D. Snodgrass, ‘Robert Hayden: The Man in the Middle’, Field¸ 1992, 47, 20–30.
73. Robert B. Stepto, ‘After Modernism, After Hibernation: Michael Harper, Robert Hayden, and Jay Wright’, in Michael S. Harper and Robert B. Stepto (eds.), Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (University of Illinois Press, 1979), pp. 470–86.
74. Houston A. Baker, Jr., ‘"These Are the Songs if You Have the Music": An Essay on Imamu Baraka’, Afro-American Poetics: Revisions of Harlem and the Black Aesthetic (University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), pp. 111–39.
75. D. H. Melhem, ‘Sonia Sanchez: The Will and the Spirit’, Heroism in the New Black Poetry: Introductions & Interviews (University Press of Kentucky, 1990), pp. 133–48.
76. Robert Elliot Fox, ‘Blue Syntaxopones: The Poetry of Bob Kaufman’, Masters of the Drum: Black Lit/oratures Across the Continuum (Greenwood Press, 1995), pp. 63–79.
77. Gloria T. Hull, ‘Living on the Line: Audre Lorde and Our Dead Behind Us’, in Cheryl A. Wall (ed.), Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women (Rutgers University Press, 1989), pp. 150–71.
78. Pat Righelato, ‘Rita Dove and the Art of History’, Callaloo, 2008, 31, 3, 760–75.
79. Megan Simpson, ‘Trickster Poetics: Multiculturalism and Collectivity in Nathaniel Mackey’s Song of Andoumboulou’, MELUS, Winter 2003, 28, 4, 35–54.
Part 12: African American Drama
80. Margaret B. Wilkerson, ‘Lorraine Hansberry’, in Valerie Smith, Lea Baechler, and A. Walton Litz (eds.), African American Writers (Macmillan/Collier Books, 1993), pp. 121–31.
81. Sandra G. Shannon, ‘The Role of Memory in August Wilson’s Four-Hundred-Year Autobiography’, in Amritjit Singh, Joseph T. Skerrett, Jr., and Robert E. Hogan (eds.), Memory and Cultural Politics: New Approaches to American Ethnic Literatures (Northeastern University Press, 1966), pp. 175–93.
82. Andrea J. Goto, ‘African American Representations in the Plays of Suzan-Lori Parks’, in Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. and Alycia Smith-Howard (eds.), Suzi-Lori Parks: A Casebook (Routledge, 2007), pp. 106–23
Part 13: African American Autobiography
83. A. Robert Lee, ‘The Stance of Self-Representation: Founders, Moderns and Contemporaries in African American Autobiography’, Designs of Blackness: Mappings in the Literature and Culture of Afro-America (Pluto Press, 1998), pp. 24–49.
84. Eva Lennox Birch, ‘Maya Angelou: The Creation of a Positive Black Self’, Black American Women’s Writing: A Quilt of Many Colours (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994), pp. 121–48.