Using the "the Negro Problem" in African American literature as a point of departure, this book focuses on the profound impact that racism had on the literary imagination of black Americans, specifically those in the South. Although the South has been one of the most enduring sites of criticism in American Studies and in American literary history, Johnson argues that it is impossible to consider what the "South" and what "southernness" mean as cultural references without looking at how black women have contributed to and contested any unified definition of that region. Johnson challenges the homogeneity of a "white" South and southern cultural identity by recognizing how fictional and historical black women are underacknowledged agents of cultural change. Johnson regards the South as a cultural region that (re)constructs black womanhood, but she also considers how black womanhood have transformed the South. Specialists in nineteenth and twentieth century American literature will find this book a necessary addition, as will scholars of African American Literature and History.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. 'In the Sunny South': Reconstructing Frances Harper as Southern 2. Conjuring a New South: Black Women Radicals in the Works of Charles Chesnutt and George Washington Cable 3. New South, New Negro: Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South 4. ‘The South Is Our Home’: Cultural Narratives of Place and Displacement. Epilogue: Voices, Bodies, and Texts: Making the Black Woman Visible in New South Literature and Culture
Sherita L. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi. She has published several encyclopedia articles about African American literature and culture. She served as a guest editor for a special issue of The Southern Quarterly, "'My Southern Home': The Life and Literature of 19th Century Southern Black Writers."