Monday, February 28, 2011

"A new book by Kenneth W. Warren, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. In the book, What Was African American Literature?, Warren provocatively asserts that that label belonged to a specific category of writing from a specific time that has passed. This genre called “African American Literature,” he says, was the umbrella for creative and critical work written by black Americans within and against the strictures of Jim Crow America. As Warren says in a podcast that you can hear below, “Black writers during this period knew that their work would be read in terms of whether it challenged or justified racial segregation.” Given that this defining characteristic no longer applies to literature written by Black Americans, Warren calls for moving past the term in ways that will enable us to recognize and appreciate the vast and varying concerns and content of literature written by Black Americans since the legal dismantling of Jim Crow."