History and Memory in African-American Culture

History and Memory in African-American Culture

by Genevieve Fabre
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195083962

ISBN-13: 9780195083965

Pub. Date: 12/28/1994

Publisher: Oxford University Press

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

Overview

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, Vèvè 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 Geneviève 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195083965
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/28/1994
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.31(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.01(d)

Table of Contents

1.Introduction3
2.The Black Writer's Use of Memory18
3.The Politics of Fiction, Anthropology, and the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston28
4.W. E. B. Du Bois and the Struggle for American Historical Memory45
5.African-American Commemorative Celebrations in the Nineteenth Century72
6.National Identity and Ethnic Diversity: "Of Plymouth Rock and Jamestown and Ellis Island"; or, Ethnic Literature and Some Redefinitions of America92
7.International Beacons of African-American Memory: Alexandre Dumas pere, Henry O. Tanner, and Josephine Baker as Examples of Recognition122
8.On the Wrong Side of the Fence: Racial Segregation in American Cemeteries130
9.What One Cannot Remember Mistakenly150
10.History-Telling and Time: An Example from Kentucky164
11.Memory and Mass Culture178
12.Performing the Memory of Difference in Afro-Caribbean Dance: Katherine Dunham's Choreography, 1938-87188
13."With a Whip in His Hand": Rape, Memory, and African-American Women205
14.Sherley Anne Williams' Dessa Rose: History and the Disruptive Power of Memory219
15.Art History and Black Memory: Toward a "Blues Aesthetic"228
16.On Burke and the Vernacular: Ralph Ellison's Boomerang of History244
17.The Journals of Charlotte L. Forten-Grimke: Les Lieux de Memoire in African-American Women's Autobiography261
18.Washington Park272
19.Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire284
Contributors301
Index303

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