America Lazarus / Edition 1

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Overview

The 1780s and 1790s were a critical era for communities of color in the new United States of America. Even Thomas Jefferson observed that in the aftermath of the American Revolution, "the spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust." This book explores the means by which the very first Black and Indian authors rose up to transform their communities and the course of American literary history. It argues that the origins of modern African-American and American Indian literatures emerged at the revolutionary crossroads of religion and racial formation as early Black and Indian authors reinvented American evangelicalism and created new postslavery communities, new categories of racial identification, and new literary traditions.

While shedding fresh light on the pioneering figures of African-American and Native American cultural history—including Samson Occom, Prince Hall, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and John Marrant—this work also explores a powerful set of little-known Black and Indian sermons, narratives, journals, and hymns. Chronicling the early American communities of color from the separatist Christian Indian settlement in upstate New York to the first African Lodge of Freemasons in Boston, it shows how eighteenth-century Black and Indian writers forever shaped the American experience of race and religion.

American Lazarus offers a bold new vision of a foundational moment in American literature. It reveals the depth of early Black and Indian intellectual history and reassesses the political, literary, and cultural powers of religion in America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Offers...accounts of fascinating moments in American cultural history that remind us of the involvement of people of color in the creation of our religious heritage. Brooks succeeds in celebrating the heroic struggles and bold texts of eighteenth-century African Americans and Christianized Native Americans as they critiqued the dominant culture and sustained their own communities."—Christianity & Literature

"Brooks's erudite and detailed analysis of the historical context, makes American Lazarus an excellent work for students in the social sciences and humanities, as well as for anyone interested in furthering their understanding of the malleability of racial and ethnic identity."—Journal of African American History

"[A] groundbreaking and illuminating book.... Brooks's originality, clarity, and scholarship in American Lazarus are noteworthy. The textual analyses are thorough and meticulous."—The North Star

"American Lazarus is a model of imaginative and rigorous interdisciplinary research."—Early American Literature

"American Lazarus launches an important and powerful refiguring of early American literature—a refiguring made possible by contemporary theories of race and colonization, but one governed nevertheless by Brooks's insistence on reading African American and Native American writers of the eighteenth century with rigorous attention to the religious and political contexts that produced them."—Eric J. Sundquist, University of California, Los Angeles

"American Lazarus is a stunning resurrection of a buried chapter of American literary history and the redemption of a host of misread, ignored, and undervalued African American and Native American literary artists whose works have long awaited the interpretive powers and methods of Joanna Brooks. This book transforms our reading of American religion, race, history, and literature by reformulating our assumptions about the literary culture of the early Republic. Brooks demonstrates how black and Indian authors used the dominant religion and language to construct the terms and reality of their own survival, redemption, and regeneration. Brooks's revealing, heroic narrative will change how we think about the formation of the nation"—Emory Elliott, University of California, Riverside

In American Lazarus Joanna Brooks applies a new and highly effective paradigm to the emergence of African American and Native American voices in eighteenth-century British America. As she explores the confluence of evangelical religion and revolutionary ideology that gave rise to such writers as Samson Occom, John Marrant, and Prince Hall, Brooks reinvigorates a long tradition of American Studies scholarship. Well-written and learned, American Lazarus should find a wide audience."—Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195160789
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Lexile: 1490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanna Brooks is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Race, Religion, and Regeneration 21
2 Samson Occom and the Poetics of Native Revival 51
3 John Marrant and the Lazarus Theology of the Early Black Atlantic 87
4 Prince Hall Freemasonry: Secrecy, Authority, and Culture 115
5 Black Identity and Yellow Fever in Philadelphia 151
Conclusion: Lazarus Lives 179
App. 1 Samson Occom's Collection of Divine Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1774) 183
App. 2 Author-Unknown Hymns Original to Occom's Collection 187
App. 3 Original Hymns 189
Notes 195
Bibliography 229
Index 249
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    What a fantastic book

    AMERICAN LAZARUS revives the works of 18th- century Black and Native American religious writers, and demonstrates that radical, wonderful idea that God takes sides -- with the poor, the enslaved, the colonized. Brooks teaches us that this Spirit of justice is alive and well today thanks to the courageous words and actions of these early writers, the debt we owe to our ancestors of color. And for doing such loving, and careful, recovery, we are indebted to Brooks as well.

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