Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

read more

Preface and Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-xii

Unwittingly, this book began while I was writing my first book, Deans and Truants: Race and Realism in African American Literature (2007), about the enormous critical and commercial expectations African American authors faced to portray their “race” in realistic ways—to demonstrate what I call racial realism. If the authors ever defied these expectations by casting not ...

read more

Introduction: Toward a New Political History of African American Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-20

What is the political value of African American literature? This question has united the intellectual interests of American authors as historically far apart as Thomas Jefferson at the end of the eighteenth century and Barack Obama at the start of the twenty-first. Over the past two centuries, it has united the social interests of literary works as different as pamphlets,...

read more

1. The Politics of Early African American Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 21-48

In fall 1780, Thomas Jefferson, as governor of Virginia and as a recently elected member of the American Philosophical Society, began drafting the twenty-three “queries” or chapters of Notes on the State of Virginia. Jefferson wrote the book in response to a questionnaire sent to him and the rest of the republic’s twelve governors by François Marbois, the secretary of the ...

read more

2. The Intellectual Culture of Racial Politics after Slavery

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 49-72

Frederick Douglass laments in his 1871 essay “The New Party Movement” that African Americans in the South must fear “not the written law, which cannot execute itself, but the unwritten law of a powerful [Democratic] party, perpetually executing itself in the daily practices of that party.” Ideological slavery, not the corporal kind of the preemancipation era, means ...

read more

3. New Negro Politics from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 73-100

From Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance, the symbolic transition of the “Negro” from “Old” to “New” is one of the more compelling stories of the competition of ideological scripts, especially as they pertain to racial representation, in the United States.1 In 1923, the Reverend Reverdy C. Ransom wrote a poem, “The New Negro,” capturing the trope of the New ...

read more

4. The Geopolitics of African American Autobiography between the World Wars

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-126

The autobiographies of Claude McKay and Langston Hughes do not record any personal interaction between the two writers, but the texts do tell us that they corresponded in literature and letters. While admiring each other’s work from afar, they similarly connected race, class, and transnationalism to geopolitics, or to geographically contingent forms of politics....

read more

5. Copyright Law, Free Speech, and the Transformative Value of African American Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 127-160

Spanning three months, from March to May 2001, SunTrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Company encourages a fundamental scholarly reconnection of copyright law and African American literature. In early 2001, the Stephens Mitchell Trust was mortified to learn that Houghton Mifflin was planning to release a parody of Gone with the Wind (1936), Margaret Mitchell’s ...

read more

6. The Political Audacity of Barack Obama’s Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 161-196

Barack Obama recalls in his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, the period between 1985 and 1988 when he was director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a community organization serving poor African Americans on Chicago’s South Side. He formed “an uneasy alliance” with Rafiq al-Shabazz, one of the area’s “self-professed nationalists,” to institute ...

read more

Epilogue: The Politics of African American Literature after Obama

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 197-210

The story of my book—or, more precisely, the backstory—is the story of how my thesis has a vexed relationship to the literary scholarship of the original Black Studies era. Always mindful of the imagery in Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s 2007 book, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, I have tried to “step out of the shadows” cast by this era, ...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 211-248

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 249-282

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 263-264