Designs of Blackness: Mappings in the Literature & Culture of Afro-America
Across more than two centuries, Afro-America has created a huge variety of literary self-expression. In examining the work of writers as diverse as Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Wilson in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, LeRoi Jones/Imamu Amiri Baraka and Leon Forrest in the twentieth century, A. Robert Lee meets this abundant play of imagination head on, presenting an intertextual series of mappings of figures and forms in the making of African American literature. Designs of Blackness views this rich literary tradition in the context of a larger corpus of black arts which typically encompasses the cinema of Spike Lee, Bessie Smith’s blues, Romare Bearsden’s canvases, the photographic work of Gordon Parks, Martin Luther King’s oratory, and Muhammad Ali’s boxing athleticism and early sass. Professor Lee examines both high and popular black styles, from slave writing, through the diaspora and the Middle Passage as memory, to postmodernism and cultural styles like rap. Particular attention is given to the formative periods of black history – the early black feminism of the 1890s, the New Negro 1920s and the Black Power and Civil Rights of the 1960s. Despite so spacious a coverage Professor Lee keeps his focus sharp and in so doing provides a radical reassessment of the cultural history of Afro-America.
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Zora Neale Hurston to Alice Walker
Imamu Amiri Baraka Ted Joans and Bob Kaufman
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