American Lazarus: Religion and the Rise of African American and Native American Literatures

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Oxford University Press, Sep 11, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 272 pages
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The 1780s and 1790s were a critical era for communities of color in the new United States of America. Even Thomas Jefferson observed that in the aftermath of the American Revolution, "the spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust." This book explores the means by which the very first Black and Indian authors rose up to transform their communities and the course of American literary history. It argues that the origins of modern African-American and American Indian literatures emerged at the revolutionary crossroads of religion and racial formation as early Black and Indian authors reinvented American evangelicalism and created new postslavery communities, new categories of racial identification, and new literary traditions. While shedding fresh light on the pioneering figures of African-American and Native American cultural history--including Samson Occom, Prince Hall, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and John Marrant--this work also explores a powerful set of little-known Black and Indian sermons, narratives, journals, and hymns. Chronicling the early American communities of color from the separatist Christian Indian settlement in upstate New York to the first African Lodge of Freemasons in Boston, it shows how eighteenth-century Black and Indian writers forever shaped the American experience of race and religion. American Lazarus offers a bold new vision of a foundational moment in American literature. It reveals the depth of early Black and Indian intellectual history and reassesses the political, literary, and cultural powers of religion in America.
 

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Contents

Race Religion and Regeneration
21
Samson Occom and the Poetics of Native Revival
51
John Marrant and the Lazarus Theology of the Early Black Atlantic
87
Prince Hall Freemasonry Secrecy Authority and Culture
115
Black Identity and Yellow Fever in Philadelphia
151
Lazarus Lives
179
Samson Occoms Collection of Divine Hymns and Spiritual Songs 1774
183
AuthorUnknown Hymns Original to Occoms Collection
187
Original Hymns by Samson Occom
189
Notes
195
Bibliography
229
Index
249
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Page 5 - Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever...
Page 34 - When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people According to the number of the children of Israel : For the Lord's portion is his people ; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
Page 19 - The past carries with it a temporal index by which it is referred to redemption. There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth.

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About the author (2003)

Joanna Brooks is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University

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