Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861

By John Ernest | Go to book overview

acknowledgments

It is difficult to map out the course of events that finally led me to this book, but I think it is safe to say that the journey began when I was a graduate student at the University of Virginia, where I wrote a dissertation on white American historians of the nineteenth century. While working on this book, I've often had occasion to realize anew just how well David Levin and Alan Howard prepared me for the work ahead. My debt to these invaluable mentors has only increased over the years.

I started to explore the ideas that developed into Liberation Historiography long before I was prepared to write this book, and I have received a great deal of help along the way. Through the years, I've benefited from opportunities to present early findings and often loose ideas to attentive and helpful communities of scholars, both professional and otherwise. This part of my story might begin in 1991 with a talk on nineteenth-century historians for a faculty discussion seminar at Florida International University, where I received warm support and encouragement from my colleagues, and a talk on George Bancroft for the Midwest Modern Language Association Annual Meeting, where members of the audience (as well as the six or seven members of a panel organized by Stephen Carl Arch) offered useful comments.

I began to explore the particular dynamics of African American historiography shortly after those events. Liberation Historiography is, in many ways, an extension of the case studies that made up my first book, Resistance and Reformation in Nineteenth-Century African-American Literature, and I've benefited greatly from the guidance of my editor at the University Press of Mississippi, Seetha Srinivasan, whose warm support for my work has continued through the years. My work turned more directly to the material I

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