Synopses & Reviews
Uncovers the strategies early African American writers used both to create an African American identity and to make their visions and stories accessible to white readers. Beginning with Phillis Wheatley and John Marrant, who created popular literature by using formulas like that of the Puritan narrative, and ending with the subversive work of Harriet Jacobs and Elizabeth Keckley, Zafar argues that black writers tried every literary strategy--from mimicry and masking to invisibility--as a means of promoting empathy and as a way of transcending the attitudes of mainstream America. By the end of Reconstruction, black authors had paved the way for a distinctive African American literature.
Uncovers the strategies early African American writers used both to create an African American identity and to make their visions and stories accessible to white readers. Alongside these pioneers of black American literature Zafar juxtaposes some familiar European American Writers. Beginning with Phillis Wheatley's implicit engagements with other colonial era poets, and ending with the ultimately tragic success story of Elizabeth Keckley, ex-slave, seamstress, and confidante to a First Lady, black authors employed virtually every dominant literary genre while cannily manipulating the nature of their presence.