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This book embarks on new intellectual terrain as the first systematic and theoretically grounded sociological study of African American literature. It examines the impact of race relations, as well as other social and political forces, on the development of the dominant ideological outlooks of African American literature. Spanning the fifty year period from 1920 to 1970, encompassing the mass northern movement, urbanization, and modernization of the African American community, and culminating in the civil rights revolution, it is the first sociological study that situates black literary discourse, and the major black American literary intellectuals (e.g. Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka), in the social and political developments of American race relations. By analyzing the formation, influence, and decline of each of the five dominant schools of black literary discourse over those five tumultuous decades, it explains how black literary production not only reacted to -- but also was shaped and constrained by -- the racial caste system. The book concludes with a theoretical chapter that links the dominant black literary outlooks to white American culture. Rejecting the simplistic notion that all cultural expression by black Americans reflects the community's social consciousness, this theoretical discussion sets forth a comparative analytical framework for understanding the social locations and functions of the different spheres of African American cultural production.
Black poets of the Harlem Renaissance (1920-1929) relied heavily upon traditional rhetorical devices, specifically irony and paradox. In contrast, their counterparts of the sixties adopted a more radical approach, employing instead street idiom and other modes of Black discourse. While the poets' strategies of the two periods differ, one element remained constant - the theme of protest. It is this similarity in purpose that marks the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance as a precursor of the revolutionary poetry of the sixties.
African American writers of the Harlem Renaissance generally fall into three aesthetic categories: the folk, which emphasizes oral traditions, African American English, rural settings, and characters from lower socioeconomic levels; the bourgeois, which privileges characters from middle class backgrounds; and the proletarian, which favors overt critiques of oppression by contending that art should be an instrument of propaganda. Depending on critical assumptions regarding what constitutes authentic African American literature, some writers have been valorized, others dismissed. This rereading of the Harlem Renaissance gives special attention to Fauset, Hurston, and West. Jones argues that all three aesthetics influence each of their works, that they have been historically mislabeled, and that they share a drive to challenge racial, class, and gender oppression. The introduction provides a detailed historical overview of the Harlem Renaissance and the prevailing aesthetics of the period. Individual chapters analyze the works of Hurston, West, and Fauset to demonstrate how the folk, bourgeois, and proletarian aesthetics figure into their writings. The volume concludes by discussing the writers in relation to contemporary African American women authors.
Childhood joy, pleasure, and creativity are not often associated with the civil rights movement. Their ties to the movement may have faded from historical memory, but these qualities received considerable photographic attention in that tumultuous era. Katharine Capshaw's Civil Rights Childhood reveals how the black child has been--and continues to be--a social agent that demands change. Because children carry a compelling aura of human value and potential, images of African American children in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education had a powerful effect on the fight for civil rights. In the iconography of Emmett Till and the girls murdered in the 1963 Birmingham church bombings, Capshaw explores the function of children's photographic books and the image of the black child in social justice campaigns for school integration and the civil rights movement. Drawing on works ranging from documentary photography, coffee-table and art books, and popular historical narratives and photographic picture books for the very young, Civil Rights Childhood sheds new light on images of the child and family that portrayed liberatory models of blackness, but it also considers the role photographs played in the desire for consensus and closure with the rise of multiculturalism. Offering rich analysis, Capshaw recovers many obscure texts and photographs while at the same time placing major names like Langston Hughes, June Jordan, and Toni Morrison in dialogue with lesser-known writers. An important addition to thinking about representation and politics, Civil Rights Childhood ultimately shows how the photobook--and the aspirations of childhood itself--encourage cultural transformation.
"I like a little rebellion now and then"--so wrote Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, enlisting in a tradition that throughout American history has led writers to rage and reason, prophesy and provoke. This is the first anthology to collect and examine an American literature that holds the nation to its highest ideals, castigating it when it falls short and pointing the way to a better collective future.American Protest Literature presents sources from eleven protest movements--political, social, and cultural--from the Revolution to abolition to gay rights to antiwar protest. Each section reprints documents from the original phase of the movement as well as evidence of its legacy in later times. Informative headnotes place the selections in historical context and draw connections with other writings within the anthology and beyond. Sources include a wide variety of genres--pamphlets, letters, speeches, sermons, legal documents, poems, short stories, photographs, posters--and a range of voices from prophetic to outraged to sorrowful, from U.S. Presidents to the disenfranchised. Together they provide an enlightening and inspiring survey of this most American form of literature.
Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955-75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century--including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Derek Walcott--alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States. Some of the poems address crucial movement-related events--such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, the emergence of the Black Panther party, and the race riots of the late 1960s--and key figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John and Robert Kennedy. Other poems speak more broadly to the social and political climate of the times. Along with Jeffrey Lamar Coleman's headnotes, the poems recall the heartbreaking and jubilant moments of a tumultuous era. Altogether, more than 150 poems by approximately 100 poets showcase the breadth of the genre of civil rights poetry. Selected contributors. Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Philip Levine, Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, Pauli Murray, Huey P. Newton, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, Yevgeny Yevtushenko
On April 20, 2010, nine Latino students chained themselves to the main doors of the Arizona State Capitol in an act of civil disobedience to protest Arizona's SB 1070. Moved by the students' actions, that same day Francisco X. Alarcón responded by writing a poem in Spanish and English titled "Para Los Nueve del Capitolio/ For the Capitol Nine," which he dedicated to the students. The students replied to the poem with a collective online message. To share with the world what was taking place, Alarcón then created a Facebook page called "Poets Responding to SB 1070" and posted the poem, launching a powerful and dynamic forum for social justice. Since then, more than three thousand original contributions by poets and artists from around the globe have been posted to the page. Poetry of Resistance offers a selection of these works, addressing a wide variety of themes, including racial profiling, xenophobia, cultural misunderstanding, violence against refugees, shared identity, and much more. Contributors include distinguished poets such as Francisco Aragón, Devreaux Baker, Sarah Browning, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Susan Deer Cloud, Sharon Dubiago, Martín Espada, Genny Lim, Pam Uschuk, and Alma Luz Villanueva. Bringing together more than eighty writers, the anthology powerfully articulates the need for change and the primacy of basic human rights. Each poem shows the heartfelt dedication these writers and artists have to justice in a world that has become larger than borders. Poetry of Resistance is a poetic call for tolerance, reflection, reconciliation, and healing.
"Majestic. Grounded in astute interpretations of how speech acts function in history, this book is an exemplary model for future inquiries about the confluence of thought, poetry, and social action."--Jerry Ward Jr., coeditor of The Cambridge History of African American Literature "A vade mecum for those interested in the cultural ingredients, the political values, and the artistic sensibilities that united Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King Jr. in spirit, thought, and outlook. Masterfully conceived, meticulously researched, and gracefully written, this book breaks new ground."--Lewis V. Baldwin, author of There Is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr. "Archival material is spotlighted in Miller's exploration of the ways Martin Luther King Jr. enlarged the appeal of his rhetoric by using poetry in his speeches. Readers will emerge with a greater appreciation of both King and Langston Hughes."--Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, editor of The Later Simple Stories (The Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Volume 8) "Miller's study provides an original, engaging and provocative thesis that explores the hitherto unexplored links between two twentieth century African American icons."--John A. Kirk, editor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement: Controversies and Debates For years, some scholars have privately suspected Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech was connected to Langston Hughes's poetry, and the link between the two was purposefully veiled through careful allusions in King's orations. In Origins of the Dream, W. Jason Miller lifts that veil to demonstrate how Hughes's revolutionary poetry became a measurable inflection in King's voice, and that the influence can be found in more than just the one famous speech. Miller contends that by employing Hughes's metaphors in his speeches, King negotiated a political climate that sought to silence the poet's subversive voice. He argues that by using allusion rather than quotation, King avoided intensifying the threats and accusations against him, while allowing the nation to unconsciously embrace the incendiary ideas behind Hughes's poetry.
Through public appearances, radio and television interviews, and his many articles and books, Manning Marable has become one of America's most prominent commentators on race relations and African-American politics. Speaking Truth to Power brings together for the first time Marable's major writings on black politics, peace, and social justice.The book traces the changing role of race within the American political system since the Civil Rights Movement. It also charts the author's striking evolution of political ideas, moving toward a political analysis of multicultural democracy, social justice, and egalitarian pluralism.