Beyond Douglass

Michael J. Drexler and Ed White (Eds.)

New Perspectives on Early African-American Literature

176 pages
ISBN 9780838757116

The starting point for Beyond Douglass is an institutional paralysis in the study of early African-American literature. Over the past decade, literary anthologies have codified this tradition through the exemplary figures of Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, Harriet Jacobs, and Frederick Douglass. Ironically, scholars have continued the valuable work of reclamation, a warrant for new approaches to slave narratives, protest literature, autobiography, poetry, and fiction. The danger, however, is that these more recently presented works will remain texts for the specialist and will neither enter nor modify the newly established canon. Beyond Douglass seeks to intervene in this premature canonization, inviting a pedagogical communication between teachers of American literature. These essays explore both newly recovered texts and new scholarly approaches, and represent a powerful call to revise what we think we know about this rich vein in American letters.

"For this excellent, much-needed reevaluation of the African American canon, Drexler (Bucknell Univ.) and White (Univ. of Florida) assembled scholarly essays that, among other things, invite teachers of diverse disciplines to teach (either in addition to or in place of) standard texts by black authors of the 18th and 19th centuries. Released in the "Aperçus" series, the collection achieves the series' goals of revealing the relationship between historiography, textual representations, and cultural studies. . . .The editors' introduction, 'Canon Loading,' is alone worth the price of admission." --L.L. Johnson, Lewis & CLark College, CHOICE, April 2009

"Beyond Douglass...assembles essays on recently discovered texts to argue that there is a newly established African-American cannon that is premature both in its content and the methodologies it enshrines...One of the most arresting suggestions is that these documents be studied as part of a contemporary panorama of styles of manhood appropriate for the times...and certainly the fact that these writers were participating in public debate all over North America..., Great Britain, the West Indies, and Africa challenges rigid categories of national literatures."--Paula R. Backscheider, "Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century." Studies in English Literature 2009: 739.

About the editors:

Michael J. Drexler is Assistant Professor of English at Bucknell University. His Broadview edition of Leonara Sansay's Secret History, or the Horrors of St. Domingo and Laura was published in 2007.

Ed White is Associate Professor of English at the University of Florida. He is the author of The Backcountry and the City: Colonization and Conflict in Early America (2005).



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