Black Columbiad: Defining Moments in African American Literature and Culture

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After a long and painful transatlantic passage, African captives reached a continent they hadn't even known existed, where they were treated in ways that broke every law of civilization as they understood it. This was the discovery of America for a good number of our ancestors, one quite different from the "paradise" Columbus heralded but no less instrumental in shaping the country's history. What finding the New World meant to those who never sought it, and how they made the hostile, unfamiliar continent their ...

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Cambridge, MA 1994 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 390 p. Harvard English Studies, 19. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

After a long and painful transatlantic passage, African captives reached a continent they hadn't even known existed, where they were treated in ways that broke every law of civilization as they understood it. This was the discovery of America for a good number of our ancestors, one quite different from the "paradise" Columbus heralded but no less instrumental in shaping the country's history. What finding the New World meant to those who never sought it, and how they made the hostile, unfamiliar continent their own, is the subject of this volume, the first truly international collection of essays on African American literature and culture.

Distinguished scholars, critics, and writers from around the world gather here to examine a great variety of moments that have defined the African American experience. What were the values, images, and vocabulary that accompanied African "explorers" on their terrifying Columbiad, and what new forms did they develop to re-invent America from a black perspective? How did an extremely heterogeneous group of African pioneers remake themselves as African Americans? The authors search out answers in such diverse areas as slavery, the transatlantic tradition, urbanization, rape and lynching, gender, Paris, periodicals, festive moments, a Berlin ethnologist, Afrocentrism, Mark Twain, Spain, Casablanca, orality, the 1960s, Black-Jewish relations, television images, comedy, and magic. William Wells Brown, Frank Webb, W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Etheridge Knight, Ishmael Reed, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, and Charles Johnson are among the many writers they discuss in detail. The result, a landmark text in African American studies, reveals, within a broader context than ever before, the great and often unpredictable variety of complex cultural forces that have been at work in black America.

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Editorial Reviews

Voice Literary Supplement
This rather odd and wonderful book is as close to African American studies has come to a dance mix. The editors feel that [African-American studies have] tended to concentrate on locating key historical moments and figures--and it's time to get a bit more goofy. So here's Room 222 and Emmett Till and Du Bois and Casablanca. Many of the contributors are European; they bring some deliciously fresh contributions to the diasporic stew.
Boston Book Review
The Black Columbiad contains several articles which will make a considerable impact upon the individual scholarly fields to which they belong.
Nineteenth-Century Literature
Thirty-five distinguished scholars, critics, and writers from around the world gather here to examine a great variety of moments that have defined the African-American experience.
Times Higher Education Supplement [UK
The Black Columbiad nicely turns Eurocentric historiography inside out...Introduced and edited by Werner Sollors and Maria Diedric, well-known scholars in this field, it makes stimulating reading...The book is wide-ranging in scope: from black carnivals in antebellum times to prospects in the year 2000; from African American perceptions of Paris to the subversiveness of jazz in Cold war Europe; from a consideration of the black magician Black Herman in terms of 'race hero' to an analysis of the myth of the black rapist and the tangle of tensions between African American criticism and feminist criticism...This collection has a refreshingly international perspective. And when you consider the extent to which African American experience has been about migration, dislocation and expatriation, this is as it should be...The Black Columbiad opens up the field; most importantly, it opens up debate. Let there be more work done in this spirit.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674076181
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Series: Harvard English Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 404
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Conceiving Blackness
The Cousins of Uncle Remus 15
Postcolonialism and Afrocentricity: Discourse and Dat Course 28
Sea Change: The Middle Passage and the Transatlantic Imagination 42
Festive Moments in Antebellum African American Culture 52
Sex, Salem, and Slave Trials: Ritual Drama and Ceremony of Innocence 64
A Spy in the Enemy's Country: Domestic Slaves as Internal Foes 77
The Slave Narrative and the Picaresque Novel 88
The Fugitive Self and the New World of the North: William Wells Brown's Discovery of America 99
Frank J. Webb: The Shift to Color Discrimination 112
Paris as a Moment in African American Consciousness 123
Sources of Modern African American Cultural Authority
"The Sorrow Songs"/"Song of Myself": Du Bois, the Crisis of Leadership, and Prophetic Imagination 145
Black Stars, the Red Star, and the Blues 167
Black Stars, the Red Star, and the Blues 167
From Berlin to Harlem: Felix von Luschan, Alain Locke, and the New Negro 174
The Change of Literary Authority in the Harlem Renaissance: Jean Toomer's Cane 185
Zora Neale Hurston's Autobiographie Fictive: Dark Tracks on the Canon of a Female Writer 191
Black Cupids, White Desires: Reading the Recoding of Racial Difference in Casablanca 201
Para Usted: Richard Wright's Pagan Spain 212
Coming of Age: The Modernity of Postwar Black American Writing 226
"Black Herman Comes Through Only Once Every Seven Years": Black Magic, White Magic, and American Culture 234
Defining Moments since the 1960s
Chicago Poets, OBAC, and the Black Arts Movement 253
Around 1969: Televisual Representation and the Complication of the Black Subject 265
Voice as Lifesaver: Defining the Function of Orality in Etheridge Knight's Poetry 275
Predicaments of Skin: Boundaries in Recent African American Fiction 286
"What You Lookin' At?" Ishmael Reed's Reckless Eyeballing 298
Lynching and Rape: Border Cases in African American History and Fiction 312
Dialogic Possession in Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo: Bakhtin, Voodoo, and the Materiality of Multicultural Discourse 325
"You Like Huckleberries?" Toni Morrison's Beloved and Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 337
Reconstructing American History: Land and Genealogy in Gloria Naylor's Mama Day 347
History, Fiction, and Community in the Work of Black American Women Writers from the Ends of Two Centuries 357
Charting a New Course: African American Literary Politics since 1976 369
Prospects?
Motherhood 2000 385
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