I’ve been consistently excited to see the rich new work in our field—amazed by the books that can be read in dialogue with Black Print Unbound and joyous about how much more we can learn about early Black print culture.
In that spirit, I wanted to devote some blog space to sharing information on some of the incredible titles published in the last couple of years—as well as some of the wonderful work that’s soon to be published.
So here, described in snippet form, are some books to be reading, celebrating, and building from. Teach them, cite them, argue with them, and tell your libraries to buy them.
The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation
University of Georgia Press, 2016
An innovative study of the early Black press, focused on conceptions of Black “chosenness” vis-à-vis print culture and anchored in careful archival work, with close attention to Freedom’s Journal, the Colored American, Frederick Douglass’s North Star, the Provincial Freeman, and the Weekly Anglo-African.
Love, Liberation, and Escaping Slavery:
William and Ellen Craft in Cultural Memory
University of Georgia Press, 2015
Based on years of amazing archival research, the story behind one of the most amazing narratives of slavery and escape (the Crafts’ Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom) and the story, as well, of the Crafts’ lives before and after—narratives that tell us much about early Black print, Black mobility, and possibilities of citizenship.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015
A striking and new approach to American literature focusing how early African American culture's conceptions and deployments of the figure of the stranger might reshape our senses of humans and humanism, featuring intriguing work on Frederick Douglass and on Les Cenelles by a scholar as careful in the archive as he is thoughtful about literary theory and practice.
Andrea N. Williams
University of Michigan Press, 2013
One of the best and most detailed studies on questions of class and African American literature—especially later nineteenth-century literature—with provocative readings of work by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Sutton Griggs, and Charles Chesnutt, among others.
Nazera Sadiq Wright
University of Illinois Press, 2016
An in-depth exploration of the ways in which the figure of the Black girl functioned in and shaped early African American literature, built on extensive archival work, with close consideration of texts ranging from Black periodicals to conduct books and writers ranging from Frances Harper to Gertrude Bustill Mossell.
Jennifer Putzi and Alexandra Socarides, eds.
Cambridge University Press, 2016
A rich resource on women’s poetry of the period writ broadly, including a number of essays that pay real and thoughtful attention to Black women’s literary work. (Full disclosure: the chapter on “Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Poetry of Slavery and Abolition” is mine—a piece I’m so excited to share.)
Good reading to all of you. More to come!