Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature

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Overview

An argument for a major remapping of the early African American literary landscape

In January of 1861, on the eve of both the Civil War and the rebirth of the African Methodist Episcopal Church's Christian Recorder, John Mifflin Brown wrote to the paper praising its editor Elisha Weaver: "It takes our Western boys to lead off. I am proud of your paper."

Weaver's story, though, like many of the contributions of early black literature outside of the urban Northeast, has almost vanished. Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth- Century African American Literature recovers the work of early African American authors and editors such as Weaver who have been left off maps drawn by historians and literary critics. Individual chapters restore to consideration black literary locations in antebellum St. Louis, antebellum Indiana, Reconstruction-era San Francisco, and several sites tied to the Philadelphia-based Recorder during and after the Civil War.

In conversation with both archival sources and contemporary scholarship, Unexpected Places calls for a large-scale rethinking of the nineteenth-century African American literary landscape. In addition to revisiting such better-known writers as William Wells Brown, Maria Stewart, and Hannah Crafts, Unexpected Places offers the first critical considerations of important figures including William Jay Greenly, Jennie Carter, Polly Wash, and Lizzie Hart. The book's discussion of physical locations leads naturally to careful study of how region is tied to genre, authorship, publication circumstances, the black press, domestic and nascent black nationalist ideologies, and black mobility in the nineteenth century.

Eric Gardner is professor and chair of the English department at Saginaw Valley State University. He is the editor of Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West (University Press of Mississippi).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Winner 2010 Outstanding Academic Title Choice

Winner 2010 EBSCOhost / Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize

Honorable Mention 2010 Thomas J. Lyon Book Award, Western Literature Association

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Eric Gardner is professor and chair of the English department at Saginaw Valley State University. He is the editor of Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West (University Press of Mississippi).

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Table of Contents

Introduction Duty and Daily Bread 3

Ch. 1 Gateways and Borders: Black St. Louis in the 1840s and 1850s 22

Ch. 2 Frontiers and Domestic Centers: Black Indiana, 1857-1862 56

Ch. 3 The Black West: Northern California and Beyond, 1865-1877 92

Ch. 4 Beyond Philadelphia: The Reach of the Recorder, 1865-1880 133

Epilogue: (Re) Locating "Hannah Crafts" 173

Notes 187

Works Cited 226

Index 247

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