During the course of writing this book I have had the privilege of gathering advice from some of the wisest and most generous people I know. By introducing me to new paradigms Evelyn Higginbotham upset my intellectual equilibrium on more than one occasion. In so doing she greatly helped my personal growth as well as the growth of this project. I am grateful for the attention she has given to my work. James A. Miller was always there to answer a question, lend a book, debate a point, read a draft, and make me laugh. Likewise, Jerry Watts challenged my thoughts and read an early draft of this project. Cornel West's careful reading of the manuscript provided me with wisdom, insight, and critical affirmation.
This book had its beginning as my dissertation for the American Studies Program at Yale University. Many of my teachers supported the project in its initial stages. I am especially grateful to my dissertation committee. Professor Robert Stepto was an ideal mentor and advisor. He always provided me with insight and enthusiasm, and his occasional "you can do more with this" impelled me to try. Michael Denning's thoughtful comments and his ability to anticipate the shape of the project were invaluable even before I put pen to paper. Working with him throughout graduate school was clearly an intellectual high point. Hazel Carby's close attention to my work, her vast store of knowledge, and her published writings made her an important member of the dissertation committee. Professors Nancy Cott and Jean-Christophe Agnew helped to clarify my thinking about issues of history and power. Their classes and written comments were especially helpful. I appreciate Alan Trachtenberg's careful reading and valuable suggestions for revision.
Werner Sollors, Carol Bernstein, Kimberly Benston, Susan Pennybacker, Ron Thomas, Errol Louis, Paul Rogers, The Wesleyan-Trinity-Yale Feminist Writer's Group ( Ann du Cille, Indira Karamachetti, Barbara Sicherman, Joan Hedrick, Laura Wexler, and Gertrude Hughes), and my intellectual sisters, Lisa Sullivan and Saidiya Hartman, all contributed enormously to my writing and thinking about cities, literature and African-American life and culture. Herman Beavers, Ines Salazar, and Houston Baker, my colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, were very supportive.
With grace and patience Crystal Lucky and Cheryl Dorsey did the very tedious but invaluable job of proofreading and checking my notes and bibliogra