Amid the Fall, Dreaming of Eden: Du Bois, King, Malcolm X, and Emancipatory Composition

By Bradford T. Stull | Go to book overview

4 Africa

[Aunt Fannie's] idea of Africa is a hair-raising blend of lore and hearsay and imagination. She thinks of it with nostalgia and longing--a kind of earthly Other Shore, Eden and Heaven--and yet she fears it because of its presumed darkness, its endless jungles, its stock of deliberately malevolent serpents and man-eating beasts.

-- Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound

This book's discussion of " Africa," like that of the "Orient," might confound conservatives and extremists alike. Those on the so-called Right, the conservatives, might wonder why American students need know this term and its web of associations. What does Africa have to do with American education, American knowledge, American literacy? Those on the so-called Left, the extremists, might be perplexed as well. They might wonder why I, who profess parochially American inclinations, who is a conservative, would include this term, would demand that Americans who would be literate know Africa and its web of associations. Africa, after all, necessarily leads to a condemnation of the American republic. To consider this word's web of meanings leads one to consider, sooner or later, the slave trade that affected profoundly the development of Europe, of America, and of Africa itself.

However, Africa does not lend itself to the easy opposition that characterizes Orient/Occident or West/East. While Europe/ Africa and America/ Africa are certainly important dialectical pairs, they simply do not, at least as of 1999, carry the same urgency as Orient/ Occident and East/West. They do not skip lightly off the tongue. They are not commonplace. This is despite the fact that Africa is central to America.

This may be because " Africa," as Christopher Miller argues, "has no positive shape of its own." Because the Occident/Orient (or, as

-74-

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Amid the Fall, Dreaming of Eden: Du Bois, King, Malcolm X, and Emancipatory Composition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 Emancipatory Composition 1
  • Chapter 2 The Fall 21
  • Chapter 3 The Orient 48
  • Chapter 4 Africa 74
  • Chapter 5 Eden 99
  • Chapter 6 Conclusion 120
  • Notes 129
  • Works Cited 139
  • Index 143
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