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Works by
Deborah E. McDowell
(Writer)

Autobiographical
  • 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.

As Editor
  • Quicksand and Passing (1986) by Nella Larsen
    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 Rampersad
    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 contemporary authors.

  • 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.

See also:
  • 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 who

    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 studies.

    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 experiences.

    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, Sue-Ellen Case, Teresa de Lauretis, Tomas Almaguer, and Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano

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