Charles Johnson in Context
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Title page, copyright page
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I wish to thank the Africana Research Center of Penn State University for supporting my research with a generous travel grant. The College of the Liberal Arts and the Department of English at Penn State also provided helpful assistance. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Bernard Bell and Aldon Nielsen for their insightful comments on earlier versions of the entire manuscript...
1 From Philosophy to Black Philosophical Fiction
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At one thought-provoking moment in Charles Johnson’s second novel, Oxherding Tale (1982), the protagonist, Andrew Hawkins, comes upon a wood carving of himself that has been sculpted by the master artisan Reb, the African American slave and descendant of the fictional Allmuseri tribe that so often figures creatively in Johnson’s fiction. As...
2 From Marx to Marcuse in Faith and the Good Thing
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Charles Johnson’s first published novel, Faith and the Good Thing (1974), begins with the strange and remarkable death of Faith’s mother, Lavidia. Compulsively and somewhat mysteriously, Lavidia makes a count of each inhalation she takes, convinced that when she draws her...
3 The Emergence of Black Dharma and Oxherding Tale
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In the mid-1990s Rosa Parks was asked to choose the single photograph that best epitomized her life for inclusion in a book titled Talking Pictures. The editors of the volume solicited photos from people they considered to be “the most interesting people of our era,” and they urged...
4 The Rise of the New Black Intellectual and the Varieties of Cosmopolitanism in Middle Passage
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Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage (1990) entered the literary marketplace at the precise moment when several scholars who were prophesying the demise of the American public intellectual were in the process of being proved stunningly incorrect. In 1987 Russell Jacoby argued in his wellknown...
5 The Return of the King and the Logic of Conversion in Dreamer
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By putting into play multiple forms of cosmopolitanism on board a single ship in Middle Passage, Johnson joins in the efforts of latetwentieth- and early-twenty-first-century thinkers to reconsider cosmopolitanism in ways that reclaim the normative force of universals while honoring...
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Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 5 illus.
Publication Year: 2009