African American

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By Gene Andrew Jarrett

Via a chain of essays that discover the kinds, subject matters, genres, ancient contexts, significant authors, and newest serious techniques, 'A spouse to African American Literature' offers a complete chronological assessment of African American literature from the eighteenth century to the trendy day

• Examines African American literature from its earliest origins, during the upward push of antislavery literature within the many years major into the Civil conflict, to the trendy improvement of up to date African American cultural media, literary aesthetics, and political ideologies
• Addresses the newest severe and scholarly methods to African American literature
• positive aspects essays via prime tested literary students in addition to more recent voices

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Extra info for A Companion to African American Literature (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture)

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Other authors, some of whom had spent more time in Africa than Wheatley and Sancho, and some of whom were influenced by the growing importance of the movement to abolish the Atlantic slave trade, offered more detailed descriptions of Africa. Their portrayals were not devoid of the sentiment one might expect to find in childhood memories, but neither were they fond reminiscences. Like Sancho and Wheatley, they judged African “paganism” harshly. Many tied it to the participation of indigenous African leaders in the Atlantic trade, a reminder that many authors had been enslaved in Africa as well as having grown up there.

Jefferson could not conceive of people of African descent as being American or British. They were always and everywhere African because of their complexion. To justify slavery in the face of mounting transatlantic opposition, Jefferson felt compelled in his Notes on the State of Virginia (London, 1787) to reject claims for the literary achievements of anyone of African descent on either side of the Atlantic. In doing so Jefferson ironically acknowledges the existence of a canon of Black Atlantic authors: Religion indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately [sic]; but it could not produce a poet.

Instead each described his enslavement in ways that showed the local traditional market relations of his village to have been perverted or infringed upon in some way by trade with Europe and the Americas. Equiano, for example, described the traditional markets that he reported having frequented with his mother, markets that included what he believed to be a more legitimate trade in enslaved people: the “strictest account” was taken, he said, of the “manner of procuring” slaves, and only those who were “prisoners of war, or … had been convicted of kidnapping, or adultery” or other heinous crimes were “suffered to pass” (Equiano 37).

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