The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature / Edition 1

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Overview

Encompassing Pulitzer Prize winners Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove, national icons Maya Angelou and Nikki African Giovanni, and prominent cult figures Zora Neale Hurston and Octavia Butler, African American women's literature is the one of the fastest growing areas of American literature today. This is the first comprehensive anthology of African American women's literature. This is the only book that covers all historical periods, from the 18th century up through the early years of the 21st century; and all genres: from poems, essays, journal entries, and short stories to novels and black feminist criticism. An exciting and interested reader for anyone who wants a comprehensive package of African-American women's writings.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Phillis Wheatley, Sojourner Truth, Terry McMillan, bell hooks, and many other African American women appear together in this comprehensive collection, which ranges from the Colonial and antebellum periods to the new millennium. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130485465
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 903,501
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Lee is the chair of the Department of English at The Ohio State University. She is the former chair of the Department of Women's Studies and is active in the field of African American women's literature.

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Read an Excerpt

"Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they set about creating something else to be."
— SULA

There are many anthologies of American Literature, a growing number of anthologies of women's literature, and several noteworthy ones of African American Literature. The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature represents the first comprehensive anthology of its kind. This volume spans all the historical periods from 1746 when Lucy Terry Prince wrote the first work by an African American to the New Millennium texts of Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. The time periods run from Colonial and Antebellum, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, to the Black Aesthetic Movement, the Second Renaissance of the late 1970s to 1990s, ending with literature of the 21 st century. In total, rather than the usual sprinkling of African American women writers found in anthologies, The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature parades more than seventy-five authors.

Equally comprehensive are the many genres that this volume covers. Expansive in its definitions, the volume contains autobiographies, spiritual narratives, letters, slave narratives, neo-slave narratives, detective fiction, genteel fiction, folk stories, science fiction, romances, historical fiction, melodramas, surrealistic dramas, dramatic monologues, lyrics, ballads, sonnets, choreopoems, prose poems, and all types of genre hybrids. In addition to breadth in terms of chronology and genre, the themes explore the full range of the human imagination. Informed and inflected by the distinctive voice of African American women, the writings comment upon art and the imagination, bodies and blackness, heritage and history, citizenship and nationhood, interracial relationships and conflicts, language and literacy, sexual harassment and violence, slavery and its aftermath, to name a few.

As a supplement to the primary materials, the anthology offers readers aids to increase understanding and appreciation of the works. Essays by Jacqueline Jones Royster, "An Era of Resistance: 19th-Century African American Women's Writings," and Valerie Lee, "Expansion, Experimentation, and Excellence: 20th- & 21st-Century African American Women's Writings, help to historicize and contextualize the readings. These essays, along with biographies of each author, provide a lens whereby readers can frame the texts. The map of where the authors were born is a distinctive addition to the field of African American literature and culture, as well as the timeline that focuses on African American women's literary history and culture. In sum, this is a student-friendly collection of some of the best literature in America's treasury of the arts.

To paraphrase the epigraph from Sula, "Because African American women had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they set about creating something else to be." That something else is a wordsmith, a teller of tales arid poems befitting their status as sistah conjurers.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Contents by Genre ix

Contents by Theme xii

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xvii

Map: Writers and Geography xix

Timeline xx

An Era of Resistance: 19th-Century African American Women's Writings Jacqueline Jones Royster xxviii

The Colonial and Antebellum Periods 1

"Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women."

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

"She is mother, and her heart / Is Breaking in despair."

"The Slave Mother"

Lucy Terry Prince (1730-1821)

"Bars Fight" (1746) 2

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

"On Being Brought from Africa to America" (1773) 3

"To S.M., A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works" (1773) 3

"On Imagination" (1773) 4

"To Samson Occom" (1774) 4

"To His Excellency General Washington" (1775) 5

Jarena Lee (1783-1849)

From The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee (1836)

"My Call to Preach the Gospel" 6

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

"Ar'n't I a Woman?" Speech to the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, presented May 29, 1851 8

"When Woman Gets Her Rights, Man Will BeRight"-delivered at the annual meeting of the American Equal Rights Association in New York (1867) 9

Nancy Gardner Prince (1799c.-1856)

From A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince, Written By Herself (1850) 10

Maria W. Stewart (1803-1879)

From "Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality" (1831) 14

"Lecture Delivered at the Franklin Hall" (1832) 19

Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897)

From Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Chapter 1-"Childhood" 22

Julia A. Foote (1823-1900)

From A Brand Plucked from the Fire (1879)

Chapter 1-"Birth and Parentage" 24

Chapter 17-"My Call to Preach the Gospel" 25

Frances E. W. Harper (1825-1911)

"The Slave Mother" (1854) 26

"The Syrophenician Woman" (1854) 27

"Ethiopia" (1854) 27

"Bury Me in a Free Land" (1857) 27

"The Two Offers" (1859) 28

"Our Greatest Want" (1859) 32

"Woman's Political Future" (1893) 33

"A Double Standard" (1894) 35

Harriet E. Wilson (1828-1863)

From Our Nig (1859)

Chapter 2-"My Father's Death" 36

Hannah Crafts

From The Bondwoman's Narrative (circa 1850s)

"A New Master" 39

The Reconstruction Period 41

"But to be a woman of the Negro race in America, and to be able to grasp the deep significance of the possibilities of the crisis, is to have a heritage, it seems to me, unique in the ages."

Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice From the South

"Mrs. Willis was a good example of a class of women of that came into existence at the close of the Civil War. She was not a rara avis, but one of many possibilities which the future will develop from among the ed women of New England."

Pauline E. Hopkins, Contending Forces

Elizabeth Keckley (1824c.-1907)

From Behind the Scenes; or, Thirty Years as a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868)

Preface 42

Chapter 1-"Where I Was Born" 44

Chapter 9-"Behind the Scenes" 46

Charlotte L. Forten Grimke (1837-1914)

From The Journals of Charlotte L. Forten Grimke

Introduction to Journal, May 25, 1854-June 25, 1854 49

Gertrude Bustill Mossell (1855-1948)

A Lofty Study" (1894) 52

Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964)

From A Voice From the South (1892)

"Womanhood A Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race" 54

"The Status of Woman in America" 62

Pauline E. Hopkins (1859-1930)

From Contending Forces (1900)

Chapter 7-"Friendship" 67

Chapter 8-"The Sewing-Circle" 73

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)

From A Red Record (1895)

Chapter 1-"The Case Stated" 79

Chapter 10-"The Remedy" 83

Expansion, Experimentation, and Excellence: 20th- and 21st-Century African American Women's Writings 86

The Harlem Renaissance 90

". . . Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listenin' tuh you..."

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

"She wished to find out about this hazardous business 'passing,' this breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly."

Nella Larsen, Passing

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935)

"I Sit and Sew" (1920) 90

From Caroling Dusk

"Snow in October" (1927) 90

Letters from Une Femme Dit, February 20,1926-March 13, 1926 90

Angelina Weld Grimke (1880-1958)

"The Closing Door" (1919) 94

"The Black Finger" (1923) 103

Anne Spencer (1882-1975)

"Before the Feast of Shushan" (1920) 104

"The Wife-Woman" (1922) 104

"At the Carnival" (1923) 105

"Lady, Lady" (1925) 105

"Letter to My Sister" (1927) 106

Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882-1961)

”The Sleeper Wakes" (1920) 107

From Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral (1929)

Chapter 1 [Passing] 118

Mary Effie Lee Newsome (1885-1979)

"The Bronze Legacy (To a Brown Boy)" (1922) 121

"Morning Light (The Dew-Drier)" (1927) 121

Georgia Douglas Johnson (1886-1966)

"The Heart of a Woman" (1918) 122

"Your World" (1922) 122

"Motherhood" (1922) 122

"Wishes" (1927) 123

"I Want to Die While You Love Me" (1928) 123

Plumes: A Folk Tragedy (1927) 123

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

"Sweat" (1926) 127

"The Gilded Six-Bits" (1933) 132

Nella Larsen (1891-1964)

Passing (1929) 138

Marita Bonner (1899-1971)

"On Being Young-a Woman-and ed" (1925) 175

Gwendolyn B. Bennett (1902-1981)

"Heritage" (1923) 178

"To a Dark Girl" (1927) 178

Helene Johnson (1907-1995)

"Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem" (1923) 179

"My Race" (1925) 179

"Magalu" (1927) 179

The 1940s-1959 180

"God help her when she grew up. God help the man who married her. God help her sisters not to follow in her footsteps."

Dorothy West, The Living Is Easy

"Sadie scraped life / With a fine-tooth comb."

Gwendolyn Brooks, "Sadie and Maud"

Dorothy West (1907-1998)

”The Typewriter" (1926) 180

"The Richer the Poorer" (1967) 183

Ann Petry (1908-1997)

"Like a Winding Sheet" (1945) 186

Margaret Walker (1915-1998)

"Ex-Slave" (1938) 191

"For My People" (1942) 191

"Lineage" (1942) 192

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

"Kitchenette Building" (1945) 193

”The Mother" (1945) 193

"We Real Cool" (1953) 194

Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)

A Raisin in the Sun (1959) 195

Literature of the Black Aesthetic Movement: The 1960s and 1970s

"now woman/i have returned."

Sonia Sanchez, "Homecoming"

"but revolution doesn't lend / itself to be-hopping."

Nikki Giovanni, "For Saundra"

Alice Childress (1920-1994)

From Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life (1956)

"Like One of the Family" 231

"Ridin' the Bus" 232

"All About My Job" 233

"Mrs. James" 234

"I Hate Half-Days Off " 234

Naomi Long Madgett (b. 1923)

"The Old Women" (1978) 236

"Attitude at Seventy-five" (2001) 236

"Gray Strands" (2001) 236

Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

"Still I Rise" (1978) 237

Paule Marshall (b. 1929)

From Soul Clap Hands and Sing (1961)

”Brooklyn" 238

Kristin Hunter (b. 1931)

From Guests in the Promised Land (1968)

”Mom Luby and the Social Worker" 247

Sonia Sanchez (b. 1934)

"Homecoming" (1969) 250

"Poem at Thirty" (1969) 250

"The Final Solution/" (1969) 251

"For Our Lady" (1969) 251

"Summer Words of a Sistuh Addict" (1970) 251

June Jordan (1936-2002)

"Independence Day in the U.S.A." (1985) 253

"Song of the Law Abiding Citizen" (1985) 253

"Poem about My Rights" (1989) 254

"Poem for Guatemala" (1989) 255

"The Female and the Silence of a Man" (1989) 256

"Intifada" (1989) 256

Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943)

"For Saundra" (1968) 258

"Nikki-Rosa" (1968) 258

Carolyn M. Rodgers (b. 1945)

"It Is Deep" (1968) 260

"How I Got Ovah" (1968) 260

Literature of the Second Renaissance: The 1970s and 1980s 262

"We waz Girls Together."

Toni Morrison, Sula

"We was Grown / We was Finally Grown."

Ntozake Shange, For ed Girls...

Toni Morrison (b. 1931)

"Recitatif" (1995) 263

Adrienne Kennedy (b. 1931)

Motherhood 2000 (1994) 272

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

”A Litany for Survival" (1978) 275

Lucille Clifton (b. 1936)

"Homage to My Hips" (1980) 277

"Homage to My Hair" (1980) 277

Jayne Cortez (b. 1936)

"Rape" (1984) 278

Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995)

From Gorilla, My Love (1972)

"The Lesson" 279

"My Man Bovanne" 282

J. California Cooper (b. 1940)

From A Piece of Mine (1984)

”A Jewel for a Friend" 285

BarbaraNeely (b. 1941)

”Spilled Salt" (1990) 289

Alice Walker (b. 1944)

From In Love and Trouble (1973)

"Roselily" 294

Pat Parker (1944-1989)

"For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend" (1978) 297

Sherley Anne Williams (1944-1999)

"Any Woman's Blues" (1975) 298

"I Want Aretha to Set This to Music" (1982) 298

Marilyn Nelson Waniek (b. 1946)

"The Writer's Wife" (1978) 300

"The Lost Daughter" (1985) 300

Michelle Cliff (b. 1946)

From Abeng (1984)

[Nanny, The Sorceress] 302

Octavia Butler (b. 1947)

"Bloodchild" (1995) 306

Ntozake Shange (b. 1948)

From for ed girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf (1977)

”Latent Rapists" 315

"With No Immediate Cause" (1978) 316

Jewelle Gomez (b. 1948)

"A Swimming Lesson" (1986) 318

"Don't Explain" (1998) 319

Alexis De Veaux (b. 1948)

"The Woman Who Lives in the Botanical Gardens" (1983) 324

Gloria Naylor (b. 1950)

From The Women of Brewster Place (1982)

"Kiswana Browne" 325

From Mama Day (1988)

[Willow Springs] 330

Marita Golden (b. 1950)

From Long Distance Life (1989)

Chapter 3-"Naomi" 334

Rita Dove (b. 1952)

From Thomas and Beulah (1986)

"The Event" 345

"Variation on Pain" 346

"Motherhood" 346

"Daystar" 346

Jewell Parker Rhodes (b. 1954)

"Long Distances" (1989) 347

Literature from the New Millennium: The 1990s to the 21st Century 351

"Trifling! Trifling women! After all I did to raise them right."

Tina McElroy Ansa, Ugly Ways

"Every shut eye ain't sleep. Every good-bye ain't gone."

Itabari Njeri, Every Good-Bye Ain't Gone

Tina McElroy Ansa (b. 1949)

"Willie Bea and Jaybird" (1991) 352

Bebe Moore Campbell (b. 1950)

From Your Blues Ain't Like Mine (1992)

Chapter 5: ["Two Small Pretty Women Staring Down an Empty Train Track"] 356

From Brothers and Sisters (1994)

[LaKeesha's Job Interview] 360

From What You Owe Me (2001)

Chapter 2: [The Braddock Hotel] 363

Terry McMillan (b. 1951)

"Ma' Dear" (1990) 366

Julie Dash (b. 1952)

From Daughters of the Dust (1999)

"The Story of Ibo Landing" 371

Harryette Mullen (b. 1953)

"Denigration" (2002) 374

"Exploring the Dark Content" (2002) 374

"Souvenir from Anywhere" (2002) 374

Itabari Njeri (b. 1954)

From Every Good-Bye Ain't Gone (1991)

”Ruby" 375

Thylias Moss (b. 1954)

"The Warmth of Hot Chocolate" (1993) 381

"Remembering Kitchens" (1993) 382

Jessica Care Moore (b. 1972)

"princess" (2003) 383

"The poem we have to write before thirty, because people will ask or I don't have a five-year plan!" (2003) 384

"struck!" (1997) 385

Pearl Cleage (b. 1948)

From I Wish I Had a Red Dress (2001)

"Black Ice" 386

Tayari Jones (b. 1970)

From Leaving Atlanta (2002)

"The Direction Opposite of Home" 390

Black Feminist Criticism and Womanist Theories 398

"For people of have always theorized-but in forms

quite different from the Western form of abstract logic."

Barbara Christian, "The Race for Theory"

"Black feminist criticism is a knotty issue..."

Deborah McDowell, "New Directions for Black Feminist Criticism"

Barbara Christian

"The Race for Theory" (1987) 399

Karla Holloway

"Revision and (Re)membrance: A Theory of Literary Structures in Literature by African-American Women Writers" (1990) 405

Audre Lorde

"The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" (1984) 412

Deborah McDowell

"New Directions for Black Feminist Criticism" (1980) 414

Carla Peterson

From "Doers of the Word": Theorizing African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the Antebellum North (1995)

"The Social Spheres of African-American Women" 421

"Black Women and Liminality" 422

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Preface

"Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they set about creating something else to be."
— SULA

There are many anthologies of American Literature, a growing number of anthologies of women's literature, and several noteworthy ones of African American Literature. The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature represents the first comprehensive anthology of its kind. This volume spans all the historical periods from 1746 when Lucy Terry Prince wrote the first work by an African American to the New Millennium texts of Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. The time periods run from Colonial and Antebellum, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, to the Black Aesthetic Movement, the Second Renaissance of the late 1970s to 1990s, ending with literature of the 21 st century. In total, rather than the usual sprinkling of African American women writers found in anthologies, The Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women's Literature parades more than seventy-five authors.

Equally comprehensive are the many genres that this volume covers. Expansive in its definitions, the volume contains autobiographies, spiritual narratives, letters, slave narratives, neo-slave narratives, detective fiction, genteel fiction, folk stories, science fiction, romances, historical fiction, melodramas, surrealistic dramas, dramatic monologues, lyrics, ballads, sonnets, choreopoems, prose poems, and all types of genre hybrids. In addition to breadth in terms of chronology and genre, the themes explore the full range of the human imagination. Informed and inflected by the distinctive voice of African American women, the writings comment upon art and the imagination, bodies and blackness, heritage and history, citizenship and nationhood, interracial relationships and conflicts, language and literacy, sexual harassment and violence, slavery and its aftermath, to name a few.

As a supplement to the primary materials, the anthology offers readers aids to increase understanding and appreciation of the works. Essays by Jacqueline Jones Royster, "An Era of Resistance: 19th-Century African American Women's Writings," and Valerie Lee, "Expansion, Experimentation, and Excellence: 20th- & 21st-Century African American Women's Writings, help to historicize and contextualize the readings. These essays, along with biographies of each author, provide a lens whereby readers can frame the texts. The map of where the authors were born is a distinctive addition to the field of African American literature and culture, as well as the timeline that focuses on African American women's literary history and culture. In sum, this is a student-friendly collection of some of the best literature in America's treasury of the arts.

To paraphrase the epigraph from Sula, "Because African American women had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they set about creating something else to be." That something else is a wordsmith, a teller of tales arid poems befitting their status as sistah conjurers.

Read More Show Less

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