Treatments of the Sacred, Spiritual, and Supernatural in Twentieth-Century African American Fiction
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Series: Southern Literary Studies
Title Page, Copyright
Introduction: Faithful Vision
RELIGIOUS AND BIBLICAL TRADITIONS that engender faith are arguably the most important cultural feature to African Americans, and therefore also to African American writers who write about black culture. However, despite the large amount of recent theoretical and philosophical work that addresses religion, critics who write about black novels seldom deal with religious and biblical traditions in fiction. It is interesting, for example, how ...
1 African American Faithful Belief: Imposing Social Determinism, Naturalism, and Modernism: Imposing Social Determinism, Naturalism, and Modernism
AFTER THE LITERARY BREAKTHROUGHS of Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison in the mid-twentieth century, African American writers were able to focus on black cultural traditions, such as the religious, from their individual artistic perspectives with fewer pressures from the literary mainstream in which Wright and Ellison had to establish themselves. In James Baldwin’s ...
2 The Centrality of Religious Faith: Communal Acceptance, Textual Ambiguity, and Paradox
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN (1953) and A Visitation of Spirits (1989) reveal the centrality of the Bible and the related African American religious tradition and at the same time significantly oppose them. The tradition of faithful vision based on the Bible is important to black people and an important influence on these narratives, no matter ...
3 Critiquing Christian Belief: The Text as Prophecy of Different Ways of Seeing Salvation
THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the works analyzed in the last chapter, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) and A Visitation of Spirits (1989), and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) and John Edgar Wideman’s The Cattle Killing (1996) is that postmodern approaches subvert the Bible in Morrison’s text, and in Wideman’s (re)write the Bible’s oppression in the attempt to revise the larger oppressive Western narrative tradition. ...
4 Rejecting God and Redefining Faith: Portrayals of Black Women’s Spirituality
FROM THE STANDPOINT of its revision of African American cultural perspective and interrogation of the ethos as it relates to the spiritual and trans-secular, The Color Purple (1982) is more complex than it may initially appear to be. On the surface, it seems to be clearly different because it is a bolder and more revolutionary text than The Cattle Killing (1996) and Beloved (1987), the two rich, innovative postmodern texts covered in the last chapter. ...
5 Reshaping and Radicalizing Faith: The Diasporic Vision and Practice of Hoodoo
JAMAICAN-BORN NOVELIST ERNA Brodber brings together the larger sacred, spiritual, and supernatural tradition of the African diaspora and shows its relationship to the African American in her novel Louisiana (1994). In its portrayal of hoodoo, Louisiana reveals an important part of the religious tradition indigenous to the African and diasporic past that Western culture and many African Americans have rejected. ...
Conclusion: Fiction, Life, and Faitful Vision: Final Thoughts on Its Overall Portrayal and Relevance
RELIGIOUS BELIEF AND FAITHFULl vision are fundamental to black culture and black people, and are much more influenced by the African past and voodoo/hoodoo than most people are aware. Some African Americans born before the 1950s know that voodoo/hoodoo has had an influence, while many born later do not. Older black people may simultaneously think of ...