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African American Literature: Slavery & Freedom (1746-1865)
Early Black American Writers by Benjamin BrawleyFrom the earliest published work in 1761 through the Civil War years, this informative anthology provides a valuable overview of Black literature during the period. Varying in background and skill, from self-taught slave to college-trained professor, the writers of this collection were among the most important early shapers of Black American culture: Banneker, Douglass, Delany, many others.
Call Number: PS508.N3 B7 1992
Phillis Wheatley by Vincent CarrettaWith Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), Phillis Wheatley (1753?-1784) became the first English-speaking person of African descent to publish a book and only the second woman--of any race or background-- to do so in America. Written in Boston while she was just a teenager, and when she was still a slave, Wheatley's work was an international sensation. In Phillis Wheatley, Vincent Carretta offers the first full-length biography of a figure whose origins and later life have remained shadowy despite her iconic status. A scholar with extensive knowledge of transatlantic literature and history, Carretta uncovers new details about Wheatley's origins, her upbringing, and how she gained freedom. Carretta solves the mystery of John Peters, correcting the record of when he and Wheatley married and revealing what became of him after her death. Assessing Wheatley's entire body of work, Carretta discusses the likely role she played in the production, marketing, and distribution of her writing. Wheatley developed a remarkable transatlantic network that transcended racial, class, political, religious, and geographical boundaries. Carretta reconstructs that network and sheds new light on her religious and political identities. In the course of his research he discovered the earliest poem attributable to Wheatley and has included it and other unpublished poems in the biography. Carretta relocates Wheatley from the margins to the center of her eighteenth-century transatlantic world, revealing the fascinating life of a woman who rose from the indignity of enslavement to earn wide recognition, only to die in obscurity a few years later.
William Wells Brown by William Wells BrownBorn a slave and kept functionally illiterate until he escaped at age nineteen, William Wells Brown (1814-1884) refashioned himself first as an agent of the Underground Railroad and then as an antislavery activist and self-taught orator and author, eventually becoming a foundational figure of African American literature. For his bicentennial, The Library of America presents the most comprehensive edition of Brown's writing ever published, an extraordinary collection of landmark works that together give voice to his passionate commitment to freedom and equality. A gripping account of his childhood, life in slavery, and eventual escape, Brown's first published book, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave(1847), was an immediate bestseller, with four editions in its first year. Like Frederick Douglass's Narrative, the only slave autobiography to sell more copies before the Civil War, it unmasks the hypocrisy of Christian slaveholders and exposes with startling intensity the violence of slave life. Clotel; or, the President's Daughter(1853), the first novel written by an African American and Brown's most ambitious work, purports to be the history of Thomas Jefferson's black daughters and granddaughters. Dramatizing the victimization of black women under slavery, the novel measures the yawning chasm between America's founding ideals and the brutal realities of bondage. Having traveled to Europe in 1849, Brown elected to remain there after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1950, not returning to America until 1854. The American Fugitive in Europe- Sketches of Places and People Abroad(1855) is the expanded version of Brown's pioneering travelogue, recounting his initial trip to Paris as a delegate to the International Peace Congress and his extensive tours through the United Kingdom as an antislavery lecturer. The first published play by an African American, Brown's The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom(1858) portrays a slave woman's escape from the sexual aggression of her white master. Published in the autumn of 1862 as the nation awaited President Lincoln's final Emancipation Proclamation, The Black Man,His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievementshighlights black men of accomplishment and influence whose lives 'surmounted the many obstacles which slavery and prejudice have thrown in their way.' My Southern Home- or, The South and Its People(1880), Brown's last memoir, explores the complex relationships and interrelationships between blacks and whites in the South during Reconstruction. The volume is rounded out with eighteen speeches and letters from Brown's public career, most previously uncollected, dealing with abolition, party politics, black history, Reconstruction and civil rights, and temperance. Detailed explanatory notes identify Brown's many quotations and allusions throughout. Ezra Greenspan holds the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities and is professor of English at Southern Methodist University. He is the editor of William Wells Brown- A Reader and the author of William Wells Brown- An African American Life. He is a founding editor of the journal Book History.
Call Number: PS1139.B9 A6 2014
Publication Date: 2014-02-20
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs; Jean Fagan Yellin; John S. Jacobs (Contribution by)This enlarged edition of the most significant and celebrated slave narrative completes the Jacobs family saga, surely one of the most memorable in all of American history. John S. Jacobs's short slave narrative, A True Tale of Slavery, published in London in 1861, adds a brother's perspective to Harriet A. Jacobs's autobiography. It is an exciting addition to this now classic work, as John Jacobs presents further historical information about family life so well described already by his sister. Once more, Jean Fagan Yellin, who discovered this long-lost document, supplies annotation and authentication.This is the standard edition of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, reissued here in the John Harvard Library and updated with a new bibliography.
The Origins of African American Literature, 1680-1865 by Dickson D. BruceFrom the earliest texts of the colonial period to works contemporary with Emancipation, African American literature has been a dialogue across color lines, and a medium through which black writers have been able to exert considerable authority on both sides of that racial demarcation. Dickson D. Bruce argues that contrary to prevailing perceptions of African American voices as silenced and excluded from American history, those voices were loud and clear. Within the context of the wider culture, these writers offered powerful, widely read, and widely appreciated commentaries on American ideals and ambitions. The Origins of African American Literature provides strong evidence to demonstrate just how much writers engaged in a surprising number of dialogues with society as a whole. Along with an extensive discussion of major authors and texts, including Phillis Wheatley's poetry, Frederick Douglass's Narrative, Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Martin Delany's Blake, Bruce explores less-prominent works and writers as well, thereby grounding African American writing in its changing historical settings. The Origins of African American Literature is an invaluable revelation of the emergence and sources of the specifically African American literary tradition and the forces that helped shape it.
Publication Date: 2001
The Trials of Phillis Wheatley by Henry Louis GatesThe slave Phillis Wheatley literally wrote her way to freedom when, in 1773, she became the first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in the English language. The toast of London, lauded by Europeans as diverse as Voltaire and Gibbon, Wheatley was for a time the most famous black woman in the West. Though Benjamin Franklin received her and George Washington thanked her for poems she dedicated to him, Thomas Jefferson refused to acknowledge her gifts. "Religion, indeed, has produced a Phillis Wheatley," he wrote, "but it could not produce a poet." In other words, slaves have misery in their lives, and they have souls, but they lack the intellectual and aesthetic endowments required to create literature.In this book based on his 2002 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at the Library of Congress, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., explores the pivotal roles that Wheatley and Jefferson have played in shaping the black literary tradition. He brings to life the characters and debates that fermented around Wheatley in her day and illustrates the peculiar history that resulted in Thomas Jefferson's being lauded as a father of the black freedom struggle and Phillis Wheatley's vilification as something of an Uncle Tom. It is a story told with all the lyricism and critical skill that have placed Gates at the forefront of American letters.
Publication Date: 2003
My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick DouglassThe second in the series of three autobiographies penned by Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom picks up where Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass left off. This volume recounts more gripping details of Douglass' transformation from illiterate slave to leading light of the abolitionist movement and offers an extended philosophical meditation on the meaning of slavery.
Publication Date: 2009
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup; David Wilson; N. Orr"The incredible true story of the kidnapping, enslavement, and rescue of Solomon Northup in the era before the Civil War--now a major motion picture! In 1841, Solomon Northup was a free man living in Saratoga Springs, New York, making a living as a violinist and spending his spare time with his wife and three young children. Lured to Washington, D.C., with the promise of a generous sum of money, Northup finds himself drugged, beaten, and sold before he can even begin to comprehend the tragic turn his life has taken. Twelve torturous years of slavery follow, with Northup passed from owner to owner, plantation to plantation, until his eventual rescue in 1853. Following his return to New York, Northup wrote and published this extraordinary book, one of the few accounts of American slavery written from the perspective of a man who had been free before being enslaved. Lost for nearly a century, Twelve Years a Slave offers unprecedented details of the slave markets of Washington, D.C., and describes the excruciating life on Southern cotton plantations. In its time, Twelve Years a Slave was a bestseller and ignited a national dialogue on slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. Northup's unsparing portrayal of the life of a slave captured minds and eventually divided a nation."--publisher's description