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CLA JOURNAL 131 130 CLA JOURNAL Book Reviews novel, but also that the promotion of black experiences in advertising (traumatic or otherwise) also shows variety as reflected in the novel’s evolving book cover. Hardison’s attention to advertising is highlighted in chapter five through her thoughtful discussion of Gwendolyn Brooks’s Maud Martha (1953).In this chapter, Hardison argues that “news articles, entertainment features, gossip columns, advertisements, and photographs targeting black readership” have a profound impact on the novel’s title character (145). She describes the novel as a“metafiction that purposefully excogitates how black women read, internalize, and embody hegemonic and non-hegemonic discourses” (Hardison 146). Hardison rightly argues that media portrayals of black womanhood during the Jane Crow era had a significant impact on black women’s self-awareness and social consciousness; sadly, this influence continues well into our contemporary moment. The final chapter of Hardison’s study departs from previous chapters in that it provides an analysis of memoir, namely Era Bell Thompson’s American Daughter (1946). “In the tradition of black women’s autobiography,” Hardison writes, “Thompson writes herself into subjectivity by championing an idealized portrait of an integrated nation that sustains its black daughters” (177). Thompson’s autobiography is important in that it is not an exclusively fictional representation of black women’s lives; rather, it highlights one black woman’s life as she imagined it to be. Hardison’s inclusion of Thompson’s work, coupled with her concluding discussion of illustrations of black womanhood prevalent in the mid-twentieth century in the study’s epilogue, presents a balanced portrait of the Jane Crow narrative that extends beyond mere fiction. Hardison’s attention to the scope and range of Jane Crow discourse not only validates the importance of her research, but also offers a clear invitation for others to consider the broader implications of her work. In short, Writing Jane Crow is a study that both intrigues and inspires. Indeed, it will be referenced by scholars for years to come. —Chanté Baker Martin, Ph.D. Savannah State University Chanté Baker Martin is an Associate Professor of English at Savannah State University. Trudier Harris. Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2014. 161 pp. $49.95. ISBN: 978-0-8173-1844-4. Hard cover. In Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature, Trudier Harrisexaminestheportrayalsof CivilRightsiconMartinLutherKing,Jr.inpoetry, drama, and prose over the last forty years. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harris writes, is “one of America’s most revered heroes” and “Americans of all races, cultures, and backgrounds have expressed admiration for him” (2). Still, along with the general view of King as hero, there is one that is reflective of the black experience. African American heroism, Harris asserts, is ambiguous, and that idea carries over into the black intellectual tradition, whether oral or literary. Harris points out that“African American heroes are embraced, shaped, defined, and re-defined to coincide with cultural needs, to highlight long-standing cultural patterns, and to emphasize that ambiguity in heroic construction—or, indeed, suspicious or questionable action in heroic construction—provide opportunities for continuing celebration, instead of rejection, of cultural heroes” (3). Thus, Harris notes, depending on the historical moment or authorial stance, one can find multiple and often competing images of King as hero. The book chapters are organized according to time period and genre, with two chapters,“Fictionalizing King: The Case of Charles Johnson”and“A Contemporary Dramatic Portrait of King: Katori Hall, The Mountaintop,” focused on the work of a sole author. Her attention is thorough, discussing prominent works and lesserknown ones. Harris marks the changes in literary portrayals of King based on historical periods—during King’s life, the direct aftermath of his assassination and decades after his death. The Black Arts Period, for example, with its competing renderings of King—from praise to ridicule during his lifetime, to mourning and vengeance after his death—is discussed in terms of drama and poetry, and includes artists like Nikki Giovanni, Ed Bullins, Sonia Sanchez, and Joseph White. Using chronology as the organizing principle is effective for the study because it allows Harris to provide historical context of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2766-0265
Print ISSN
0007-8549
Pages
pp. 131-132
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-01
Open Access
No
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