African American Authors, 1745-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

African American Authors, 1745-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

African American Authors, 1745-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

African American Authors, 1745-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

Synopsis

There has been a dramatic resurgence of interest in early African American writing. The works of dozens of 18th and early 20th century black writers have been recovered and reprinted; there has been a significant revival of interest in the Harlem Renaissance; and several major assessments of 18th and 19th century African American literature have recently been published. This reference book provides alphabetically arranged entries for 78 African American writers active between 1745 and 1945. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and includes a biography, a discussion of major works and themes, a summary of the critical response to the author, and primary and secondary bibliographies. A selected, general bibliography concludes the volume.

Excerpt

Three landmark events in African American literary history took place in 1983. That year Alice Walker The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize; Gloria Naylor received the American Book Award for her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place; and Harriet Wilson Our Nig, first published in 1859, was republished. These events contributed substantially to the dramatic resurgence of academic as well as popular interest in African American literature during the 1980s. While Walker's and Naylor's achievements strengthened interest in the contemporary literary scene, the accidental rediscovery of Wilson's forgotten work from the mid- nineteenth century by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and its republication by Random House in 1983 sparked new scholarly curiosity about early African American writing. In fact, since 1983, the works of dozens of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers have been recovered and reprinted. There is now a significant revival of interest in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. In the last decade alone, several major assessments of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African American literature have been published. Recent collections, such as The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1997) and Call & Response:
The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition
(1998), offer nearly comprehensive overviews of African American writing unavailable even in the 1980s. This reference volume is designed as a vital contribution to this ongoing recuperative project: it is intended as a scholarly guide to the lives and works of 78 writers from the first 200 years of African American tradition in literature.

The African American tradition in creative expression probably began in 1619, when a ship carrying human cargo from West Africa arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. The hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans who were subsequently transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the emerging United States of America . . .

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