Deborah E. McDowell
Leaving Pipe Shop (1997)
McDowell's journey into her past begins with a return. Years after
the mysterious death of her father, a former employee at the local steel
mill, she found herself back in Pipe Shop--the black working class
neighborhood in Bessemer, Alabama, where she was raised--for what she
reckoned would only be a brief visit. Surrounded by places still resonant
with the sights, sounds, and people of her youth--an extended network of kin
and a vibrant neighborhood of enterprising folk--she became engulfed by
memories of the once familiar. In a family of three generations bonded
together, she was guided and shaped by the formidable presence of her
great-grandmother, her forceful and independent grandmother, her own
steadfast, resourceful mother, and her father, from whom she inherited a
love of words. These and other member of this memorable family are brought
vividly to life as McDowell traces the lush contours of her childhood
landscape: the everyday ritual of going for ice cream, her teenage cotillion
sponsored by her grandmother's social club, the slaying of a local minister
who was a prominent Civil Rights activist. With a skilled hand, Deborah
McDowell seduces us with these memories, some tinged with sadness, others
colored with warmth and humor.
More than a simple coming of age story, Leaving Pipe Shop is an evocation of
growing up black in the South and the eve of the tumultuous sixties, a
portrait of a culture in transition, of a Southern world in the throes of
political and economic change. Here is the debut of a rich and powerful
voice in American memoir.
Quicksand and Passing (1986) by Nella
Nella Larsen's novels Quicksand(1928) and Passing(1929) document
the historical realities of Harlem in the 1920s and shed a bright light on
the social world of the black bourgeoisie. The novel's greatest appeal and
achievement, however, is not sociological, but psychological. As noted in
the editor's comprehensive introduction, Larsen takes the them of psychic
dualism, so popular in Harlem Renaissance fiction, to a higher and more
complex level, displaying a sophisticated understanding and penetrating
analysis of black female psychology.
Slavery and the Literary Imagination (1988) with Arnold
Seven noted scholars examine slave narratives and the topic
of slavery in American literature, from Frederick Douglass's Narrative
(1845)-- treated in chapters by James Olney and William L. Andrews-- to
Sheley Anne William's "Dessa Rose" (1984). Among the contributors, Arnold
Rampersad reads W.E.B. DuBois's classic work "The Souls of Black Folk"
(1903) as a response to Booker T. Washington's "Up from Slavery" (1901).
Hazel V. Carby examines novels of slavery and novels of sharecropping and
questions the critical tendency to conflate the two, thereby also
conflating the nineteenth century with the twentieth, the rural with the
urban. Although works by Afro-American writers are the primary focus, the
authors also examine antislavery novels by white women. Hortense J.
Spillers gives extensive attention to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's
Cabin", in juxtaposition with Ishmael Reed's "Flight to Canada"; Carolyn
L. Karcher reads Lydia Maria Child's "A Romance of the Republic" as an
abolitionist vision of America's racial destiny.
In a concluding chapter, Deborah E. McDowell's reading of
"Desa Rose" reveals how slavery and freedom-- dominant themes in
nineteenth-century black literature-- continue to command the attention of
Four Girls at Cottage City (1988) by Emma Dunham Kelley
First published in Boston in 1898, Four Girls at Cottage City tells the
story of four carefree, young women (all physically indistinguishable from
white women) who, while vacationing at a Massachusetts resort, embark on a
struggle for salvation and commit themselves to Christian service.
Combining conventions of spiritual autobiography with those of the
sentimental novel, Emma Kelley-Hawkins presents a powerful spritual
message alongside a belief in the strength of matrifocal communities. Four
Girls at Cottage City serves as a precursor to the spiritual feminism that
resonates throughout African-American women's fiction today.
The Changing Same: Black Women's Literature, Criticism, and Theory (1994) with Arnold Rampersand
Examines defining moments in African American women's fiction & its
reception: the Women's Era" of the 1890s, the Harlem Renaissance & the
"New Black Renaissance of the 1970s & 1980s.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (2000)
This dramatic autobiography of the early life of an American
slave was first published in 1845, when its young author had just achieved
his freedom. Douglass' eloquence gives a clear indication of the powerful
principles that led him to become the first great African-American leader
in the United States.
Of One Blood (1902-3) ny Pauline
Hopkins (Intro by Doborah E. McDowell)
Of One Blood is the last of four novels written by Pauline Hopkins.
She is considered by some to be "the most prolific African-American woman
writer and the most influential literary editor of the first decade of the
twentieth century, though she is one of the lesser known literary figures
of the much lauded Harlem Renaissance. Of One Blood first appeared
in serial form in Colored American Magazine in the November and
December 1902 and the January 1903 issues of the publication, during the
four-year period that Hopkins served as its editor.
Hopkins tells the story of Reuel Briggs, a medical student
couldn't care less about being black and appreciating
African history, but finds himself in Ethiopia on an archeological trip.
His motive is to raid the country of lost treasures -- which he does find
in the ancient land. However, he discovers much more than he bargained
for: the painful truth about blood, race, and the half of his history that
was never told. Hopkins wrote the novel intending, in her own words, to
"raise the stigma of degradation from [the Black] race." The title, Of
One Blood, refers to the biological kinship of all human beings.
Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral (1929) by Jessie Redmon Fauset
(Intro by Doborah E. McDowell)
Written in 1929 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance by one of its most
prolific authors, Plum Bun is the story of Angela Murray, a young black
girl from Philadelphia who discovers she can pass for white. After the
death of her parents, Angela moves to New York to escape the racism she
believes is her only obstacle to opportunity. What she soon discovers is
that being a woman has its own burdens that don't fade with the color of
one's skin, and that love and marriage might not offer her salvation.
The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader
(1993) by Henry Abelove
The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader is the biggest and most
comprehensive multi-disciplinary anthology of critical work in lesbian/gay
Comprising scholarship, criticism, commentary, and political analysis,
lesbian/gay studies is one of the fastest growing fields in contemporary
thought. Its influence is changing the shape of every branch of learning
in the humanities and social sciences.
Bringing together forty-two groundbreaking essays--many of them already
classics--this collection provides a much-needed introduction to the
contemporary state of lesbian/gay studies, extensively illustrating the
range, scope, diversity, appeal, and power of the work currently being
done in the field. Featuring essays by such prominent scholars as Judith
Butler, John D'Emilio, Kobena Mercer, Adrienne Rich, Gayle Rubin, and Eve
Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader
explores a multitude of sexual, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic
Ranging across disciplines including history, literature, critical theory,
cultural studies, African American studies, ethnic studies, sociology,
anthropology, psychology, classics, and philosophy, this anthology traces
the inscription of sexual meanings in all forms of cultural expression.
Representing the best and most significant English language work in the
field, The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader addresses topics
such as butch-fem roles, the cultural construction of gender, lesbian
separatism, feminist theory, AIDS, safe-sex education, colonialism, S/M,
Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, children's books, black nationalism, popular
films, Susan Sontag, the closet, homophobia, Freud, Sappho, the media, the
hijras of India, Robert Mapplethorpe, and the politics of
representation. It also contains an extensive bibliographical essay which
will provide readers with an invaluable guide to further reading.
In the tradition of Routledge's Cultural Studies and Unequal
Sisters, The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader
marks a critical moment in the development of the field. It will be
essential reading for anyone--gay or straight--interested in the history
of sexuality, sexual politics, and gender studies.
Contributors include Adrienne Rich,
Ana Maria Alonso,
Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith,
Biddy Martin, Catharine R. Stimpson, Charlotte Furth, Cindy Patton, D. A.
Miller, Danae Clark, Daniel L. Selden, David Halperin,
Deborah E. McDowell, Douglas Crimp, Esther
Newton, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Gayle Rubin, Gloria T. Hull, Harriet
Whitehead, Henry Abelove,
Joan W. Scott, John D'Emilio,
John J. Winkler, Jonathan Dollimore, Judith Butler, Kobena Mercer, Lee
Edelman, Maria Teresa Koreck, Marilyn Frye, Marjorie Garber, Martha Vicinus,
Michele Barale, Monique Wittig, Phillip Brian Harper, Richard Meyer,
Sasha Torres, Serena Nanda, Simon Watney, Stuart Hall,
Teresa de Lauretis, Tomas Almaguer, and Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano
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