African American Writing: A Literary Approach

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Temple University Press, Apr 29, 2016 - Literary Criticism - 256 pages

Werner Sollors’ African American Writing takes a fresh look at what used to be called “Negro literature.” The essays collected here, ranging in topic from Gustavus Vassa/Olaudah Equiano to LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, and in time from the Enlightenment to the Obama presidency, take a literary approach to black writing and present writers as readers and as intellectuals who were or are open to the world.

From W.E.B. Du Bois commenting on Richard Wagner and Elvis Presley, to Zora Neale Hurston attacking Brown v. Board of Ed. in a segregationist newspaper, to Charles Chesnutt’s effigy darkened for the black heritage postage stamp, Sollors alternates between close readings and broader cultural contextualizations to delineate the various aesthetic modes and intellectual exchanges that shaped a series of striking literary works.

Readers will make often-surprising discoveries in the authors’ writing and in their encounters and dialogues with others. The essays, accompanied by Winold Reiss’s pastels, Carl Van Vechten’s photographs, and other portraits, attempt to honor this important literature’s achievement, heterogeneity, and creativity.

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African American Writing: A Literary Approach

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Sollors (Neither Black nor White yet Both), a professor of African-American studies and English at Harvard, assembles 12 previously published essays that collectively offer an illuminating and fresh ... Read full review

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About the author (2016)

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Research Professor of English Literature at Harvard University and Global Professor of Literature at New York University Abu Dhabi. He is the co-editor (with Greil Marcus) of A New Literary History of America and the author of Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture, Neither Black nor White yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature, and The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s.

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