Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist / Edition 1

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A cultural history of the work of nineteenth-century black women writers, this volume traces the emergence of the novel as a forum for political and cultural reconstruction, examining the ways in which dominant sexual ideologies influenced the literary conventions of women's fiction, and reassessing the uses of fiction in American culture. Carby revises the history of the period of Jim Crow and Booker T. Washington, depicting a time of intense cultural and political activity by such black women writers as Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Pauline Hopkins.

A cultural history of the work of nineteenth-century black women writers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The best book I have read on this topic. Clear, well-researched, and well-written. Clarifies huge historical, political, and cultural issues."—Dan Fineman, Occidental College

"A landmark contribution....[Carby] offers trenchant critical analyses of the writing of Harriet Jacobs, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Anna Julia Cooper, and Nella Larsen, among others; but she is primarily concerned with examining the cultural position of the black woman intellectual. A powerful instance of black feminist cultural history and literary theory, [this book] explores the ways in which black women writers represented the prevailing ideological debates of their times."—The Women's Review of Books

"Carby's patient textual and historical work reveals clearly how idfferent "public" spheres of discourse and address exist simultaneously and manifest their contradictory modes of address within, not just between, texts.... Reconstructing Womanhood brings to light major neglected women authors, revolutionizes the history of African-American literary culture, and contributes significantly to the current cultural studies effort to recast the relations between dominant and less powerful American cultures. Finally, in historicizing "womanhood", this text vitalizes the relation between academic "theory" and the contemporary feminist struggle to recognize and mobilize the differences among women." Modern Philology

"Profoundly redefines the terms in which future discussions of the American nineteenth century will take place."—Modern Philology

"An exciting work....Likely to be indispensable reading in this field for a long time to come."—Review

"The most complex and supple of the interpretive paradigms that I have surveyed."—American Quarterly

"Her almost revolutionary ideas are worth serious consideration because they enlarge our understanding of Afro-American literature during a significant period that has been little studied and appreciated." —American Literature

"[A] ground-breaking study of the rise of black women's fiction."—The Village Voice

"She has skillfully conceived and artfully written an honest, searching book of enormous value."—American Historical Review

"Carby's valuable scholarly study breaks new ground in black feminist criticism....Enriches our understanding of and appreciation for black women writers at the same time as it forces feminist literary criticism to stretch beyond a white 'norm.'"—New Directions for Women

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195060713
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/1989
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,000,148
  • Lexile: 1530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.31 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents

1 "Woman's Era": Rethinking Black Feminist Theory 3
2 Slave and Mistress: Ideologies of Womanhood under Slavery 20
3 "Hear My Voice, Ye Careless Daughters": Narratives of Slave and Free Women before Emancipation 40
4 "Of Lasting Service for the Race": The Work of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper 62
5 "In the Quiet, Undisputed Dignity of My Womanhood": Black Feminist Thought after Emancipation 95
6 "Of What Use Is Fiction?": Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins 121
7 "All the Fire and Romance": The Magazine Fiction of Pauline Hopkins 145
8 The Quicksands of Representation: Rethinking Black Cultural Politics 163
Notes 177
Bibliography of Texts by Black Women Authors 199
General Bibliography 205
Index 217
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