We Wear the Mask: African Americans Write American Literature, 1760-1870

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Columbia University Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 249 pages

Uncovers the strategies early African American writers used both to create an African American identity and to make their visions and stories accessible to white readers. Beginning with Phillis Wheatley and John Marrant, who created popular literature by using formulas like that of the Puritan narrative, and ending with the subversive work of Harriet Jacobs and Elizabeth Keckley, Zafar argues that black writers tried every literary strategy--from mimicry and masking to invisibility--as a means of promoting empathy and as a way of transcending the attitudes of mainstream America. By the end of Reconstruction, black authors had paved the way for a distinctive African American literature.

 

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Contents

Phillis
15
African Americans
41
The Narratives
67
It is natural to believe in great men
89
The Blackwoman in the Attic
117
Elizabeth
151
The Beginning of African
185
Notes
191
Bibliography
223
Index
243
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Rafia Zafar is Professor of English and African and African American Studies,Washington Univerisity in St. Louis.

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