A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II / Edition 1

A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II / Edition 1

by Jennifer C. James
Pub. Date:
The University of North Carolina Press


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A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II / Edition 1

In the first comprehensive study of African American war literature, Jennifer James analyzes fiction, poetry, autobiography, and histories about the major wars waged before the desegregation of the U.S. military in 1948. Examining literature about the Civil War, the Spanish-American Wars, World War I, and World War II, James introduces a range of rare and understudied texts by writers such as Victor Daly, F. Grant Gilmore, William Gardner Smith, and Susie King Taylor. She argues that works by these as well as canonical writers such as William Wells Brown, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Gwendolyn Brooks mark a distinctive contribution to African American letters.

In establishing African American war literature as a long-standing literary genre in its own right, James also considers the ways in which this writing, centered as it is on moments of national crisis, complicated debates about black identity and African Americans' claims to citizenship. In a provocative assessment, James argues that the very ambivalence over the use of violence as a political instrument defines African American war writing and creates a compelling, contradictory body of literature that defies easy summary.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807858073
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/03/2007
Edition description: 1
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jennifer C. James is associate professor of English and Africana studies at George Washington University.

Table of Contents



Introduction. Sable Hands and National Arms: Theorizing the African American Literature of War

1. Civil War Wounds: William Wells Brown, Violence, and the Domestic Narrative

2. Fighting Fire with Fire: Frances Harper, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and the Post-Civil War Reconciliation Narrative

3. Not Men Alone: Susie King Taylor's Reminiscences of My Life in Camp and Masculine Self-Fashioning

4. Imagining Mobility: Turn-of-the-Century Empire, Technology, and Black Imperial Citizenship

5. Innocence, Complicity, Consent: Black Men, White Women, and Worlds of Wars

6. Diaspora and Dissent: World War I, Claude McKay, and Home to Harlem

7. If We Come Out Standing Up: Gwendolyn Brooks, World War II, and the Politics of Rehabilitation

Conclusion. Let This Dying Be for Something: And Then We Heard the Thunder and the Military Neoslave Narrative



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From the Publisher

James examines a topic that has been not only ignored, but also strangely avoided. By drawing on a range of textual genres from wartime America, she explores emerging formations of blackness that do not conform to the mainstream versions we have been taught to expect. The text is both easily accessible and cutting-edge in its scholarship and will be of interest to scholars in black Atlantic/African diaspora studies, African American studies, women's studies, sociology, queer studies, and literature.—Michelle Wright, University of Minnesota, author of Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora

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