The Ebony Column
Classics, Civilization, and the African American Reclamation of the West
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
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Title page, Copyright Page
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Foreword, John C. Shields, Series Editor
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Regrettably, an attitude dominates in the land that all things classical are the exclusive property of white folks. To declare this anemic attitude a crock of creeping ignorantum hardly addresses the extent of the problem. Over ten years ago, I published The American Aeneas: Classical Origins of the American Self (University of Tennessee Press, 2001), in which I at-...
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In this book, I begin a new thread in a conversation about the influence of antiquity on American civilization and American education that has gone on for quite some time. While many of the scholars gathered around the topic have made exceptional observations about antiquity and the Ameri-can experience, I have been continually frustrated by the regular elision ...
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I would like to thank my family for all their support as I developed this book. Thanks as well to the local Durham, North Carolina, businesses that continue to make space for scholars lingering over meals and coffee to work. I greatly appreciate those close friends and colleagues who were part of those regular, varied, and provocative exchanges via telephones, ...
Introduction: A More Than Partial Grace: A Prolegomenon for African American Experiences with the Classics
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African American writers have confronted a multitude of claims against black intelligence and humanity, lodged by white detractors and dating from the colonial period onward. They countered these assaults in nu-merous literary genres, notably Protestant evangelical sermons, political treatises, and the slave narrative tradition. Scholars have devoted consid-...
Chapter 1: The Trojan Horse: Phillis Wheatley
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In 1772, at the commencement of a revolutionary season, a youthful Phillis Wheatley sought to publish a collection of classically pastoral, epic, re-ligious, and elegiac poetry. Revolutionary in her own right, the young poet disrupted established assumptions about black literary authorship in eighteenth-century America and challenged broader European and colo-...
Chapter 2: The Virtuous Voice of Frederick Douglass
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Frederick Douglass’s extemporaneous speech in 1841 at the Nantucket Athenaeum inaugurated his historic career as a national abolitionist orator and, combined with subsequent early speeches for William Lloyd Garrison’s antislavery society, transformed abolitionist oratory. Before Douglass, abolitionists had sought to enhance the authority and credibil-...
Chapter 3: Sine Qua Non: The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper
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The podium of the 1893 World Congress of Representative Women in Chicago held a formidable array of African American women. After bitter complaints from prominent black women that the Columbian Exposition’s women’s exhibit exemplified the exclusive and racist nature of the event, organizers invited Anna Julia Cooper, Fannie Barrier Williams, Frances ...
Chapter 4: Quo Vadis? : W. E. B. Du Bois and The Souls ofBlack Folk
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The critical attention to Anna Julia Cooper’s writing pales in compari-son to the volume of scholarship that W. E. B. Du Bois’s internationally renowned The Souls of Black Folk has produced. Du Bois has long been recognized as one of the most important African American writers and among the most influential American writers. He has been repeatedly ex-...
Conclusion: Απολλων: The Temple of Apollo
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How the African American writers I have examined used the classics re- flected their individual needs to establish positions of authority or au-thenticity as writers, scholars, race representatives, or leaders. Moreover, whether or not specific classical texts assumed prominence in their various works and which works emerged as definitive for each writer also reflected ...
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Works Cited and Consulted
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Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Classicism in American Culture
Series Editor Byline: John C. Shields, Series Editor