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As Nathan Huggins once stated, altering American history to account fully for the nation's black voices would change the tone and meaning—the frame and the substance—of the entire story. Rather than a sort of Pilgrim's Progress tale of bold ascent and triumph, American history with the black parts told in full would be transmuted into an existential tragedy, closer, Huggins said, to Sartre's No Exit than to the vision of life in Bunyan.
The relation between memory and history has received increasing attention both from historians and from literary critics. In this volume, a group of leading scholars has come together to examine the role of historical consciousness and imagination in African-American culture. The result is a complex picture of the dynamic ways in which African-American historical identity constantly invents and transmits itself in literature, art, oral documents, and performances.
Each of the scholars represented has chosen a different "site of memory"—from a variety of historical and geographical points, and from different ideological, theoretical, and artistic perspectives. Yet the book is unified by a common concern with the construction of an emerging African-American cultural memory.
The renowned group of contributors, including Hazel Carby, Werner Sollors, Vï¿½vï¿½ Clark, Catherine Clinton, and Nellie McKay, among others, consists of participants of the five-year series of conferences at the DuBois Institute at Harvard University, from which this collection originated. Conducted under the leadership of Geneviï¿½ve Fabre, Melvin Dixon, and the late Nathan Huggins, the conferences—and as a result, this book—represent something of a cultural moment themselves, and scholars and students of American and African-American literature and history will be richer as a result.
|2||The Black Writer's Use of Memory||18|
|3||The Politics of Fiction, Anthropology, and the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston||28|
|4||W. E. B. Du Bois and the Struggle for American Historical Memory||45|
|5||African-American Commemorative Celebrations in the Nineteenth Century||72|
|6||National Identity and Ethnic Diversity: "Of Plymouth Rock and Jamestown and Ellis Island"; or, Ethnic Literature and Some Redefinitions of America||92|
|7||International Beacons of African-American Memory: Alexandre Dumas pere, Henry O. Tanner, and Josephine Baker as Examples of Recognition||122|
|8||On the Wrong Side of the Fence: Racial Segregation in American Cemeteries||130|
|9||What One Cannot Remember Mistakenly||150|
|10||History-Telling and Time: An Example from Kentucky||164|
|11||Memory and Mass Culture||178|
|12||Performing the Memory of Difference in Afro-Caribbean Dance: Katherine Dunham's Choreography, 1938-87||188|
|13||"With a Whip in His Hand": Rape, Memory, and African-American Women||205|
|14||Sherley Anne Williams' Dessa Rose: History and the Disruptive Power of Memory||219|
|15||Art History and Black Memory: Toward a "Blues Aesthetic"||228|
|16||On Burke and the Vernacular: Ralph Ellison's Boomerang of History||244|
|17||The Journals of Charlotte L. Forten-Grimke: Les Lieux de Memoire in African-American Women's Autobiography||261|
|19||Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire||284|