Hines writings note that even though slavery was harsh and cruel for many, she and others on James Pressman’s plantation did not have to endure many of its severities. Hines also notes how she, her family, and other former slaves were willing to stay on Mr. Pressman’s plantation even after the Civil War because the environment was so pleasurable. Hines’s story is truly the exception of slavery in American history. "To My Old Master" by Jourdon Anderson is a very good example of how authors can use the literary conventions of a letter to tell a story. Jourdon exquisitely uses a letter format of storytelling in order him heal from his past, relieves resentment, and liberates himself. Jourdon is writing his letter in response to a letter he received from an old master. The master wrote Anderson, wanting him and his family to come work for them again. Althoug...
To eliminate protest from African American writing would be to deny the history from which it was forged. That history is one laced with violence and inequality, and, like writers of any other culture, African American authors have been drawn to the land and the society that shaped them. That shaping is filled with many things that are protestable, thus protest, whatever nuanced forms it may take to conform to the time period in which it is produced, will undoubtedly continue to be a part of the African American literary landscape. What W. E. B. Du Bois articulated in 1926 in “” remains true in the twenty-first century:
Thus all Art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists. I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been used always for propaganda for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy. I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda. But I do care when propaganda is confined to one side while the other is stripped and silent.
This subject, cross-listed in Literature and Women's Studies, examines a range of American women authors from the seventeenth century to the present. It aims to introduce a number of literary genres and styles- the captivity narrative, slave novel, sensational, sentimental, realistic, and postmodern fiction- and also to address significant historical events in American women's history: Puritanism, the American Revolution, industrialization and urbanization in the nineteenth century, the Harlem Renaissance, World War II, the 60s civil rights movements. A primary focus will be themes studied and understood through the lens of gender: war, violence, and sexual exploitation (Keller, Rowlandson, Rowson); the relationship between women and religion (Rowlandson, Rowson, Stowe); labor, poverty, and working conditions for women (Fern, Davis, Wharton); captivity and slavery (Rowlandson, Jacobs); class struggle (Fern, Davis, Wharton, Larsen); race and identity (Keller, Jacobs, Larsen, Morrison); feminist revisions of history (Stowe, Morrison, Keller); and the myth of the fallen woman (take your pick). Essays and in-class reports will focus more particularly on specific writers and themes and will stress the skills of close reading, annotation, research, and uses of multimedia where appropriate.
The essays and digital databases may be accessed by clicking on one of the images on this page, or you may enter your own search topic by using the keyword search at the top of pages throughout the site.This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the Collection authors in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.* 1997/98 Award Winner, Library of Congress/Ameritech Digital Library Competition as part of the American Memory Historical Collections at the Library of Congress.
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Robert Atwan's favorite literary genre is the essay
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Those who knock Wallace for his verbosity — or associate him merely with a liberal use of footnotes — haven't read one of his classic essays through to the end. This one, which you can read online or in his collection , follows him home to Illinois, specifically to the state fair there. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and almost ridiculous in its level of detail, it explores the author's fractured identity, the Midwest versus the East Coast, and the American experience at large.
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Spurred by the success of 's Pulitzer Prize–winning , Native American literature showed explosive growth during this period, known as the , through such novelists as (e.g., ), (e.g., and numerous essays on Native American literature), ( and several other novels that use a recurring set of characters and locations in the manner of ), (e.g., ), (e.g., ), and poets and . The success of these authors has brought renewed attention to earlier generations, including , , and .