Category: african american literature

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“That is merde alors!”: Frank Yerby and Identity

Rediscovering Frank Yerby, a project I have been working on for a few years, will be out this May from the University Press of Mississippi. Along with this, UPM will release Veronica Watson’s The Short Stories of Frank Yerby around the same time. I am extremely excited for each of these books, not just because I edited one of them. I am excited because … Read More “That is merde alors!”: Frank Yerby and Identity

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The “historical self” and the “self self”: Part I

Last post, I wrote about the ways that racism, subjugation, and history imprisons everyone, the oppressed and the oppressor alike. Today, I want to continue that discussion by looking at Lillian Smith’s Killers of the Dream and connected her discussion with a couple of the vignettes in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. While Smith focuses, predominately, on the white psyche, Rankine focuses on … Read More The “historical self” and the “self self”: Part I

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The “Visceral Feelings” of Racism in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

Throughout his career, Frank Yerby confronted whiteness and white supremacy in his novels. He looked at the ways that racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and oppression affected the oppressor as well as the oppressed. This is what Lillian Smith does throughout her work. It’s what Harper Lee attempts to do in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s what Toni Morrison says we should do in Playing in … Read More The “Visceral Feelings” of Racism in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

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The Mythologized South in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

I have to admit, when I started reading Frank Yerby’s Griffin’s Way (1962) I was not impressed. Having written 33 novels over the course of his career, I knew I wouldn’t like all of them, but Griffin’s Way struck me, from the beginning, as odd. I didn’t really like the organization of Candace Trevor’s section. It seemed really disjointed and not at all what … Read More The Mythologized South in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

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Current and Future Projects at the Lillian E. Smith Center

Over the past few weeks, I have been settling into my new position as the Director of the Lillian E. Smith Center (LES Center). During this process, I have started to read more of Smith’s work and learned more about her life and social justice work, specifically through the Laurel Falls Camp and during the Civil Rights movement. There is a lot I could … Read More Current and Future Projects at the Lillian E. Smith Center

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The Roots Beneath Our Feet

Currently, I’m working on a paper that looks at the ways that Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season, amongst other things, critiques the plantation tourism industry in the South. As I was researching, I came across Rebecca C. McIntyre’s “Promoting the Gothic South,” an article that explores the ways that travel writers, after the Civil War, began to construct images of the South, specifically in … Read More The Roots Beneath Our Feet

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History and Education in Alice Walker’s “The Third Life of Grange Copeland”

Today, I’m going to finish the discussion I began last week on history and the ways that we construct meaning. In the last post, I looked at Ernest J. Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971). For this post, I will focus on one more scene from Gaines’ novel then move on to look at a section from Alice Walker’s The Third Life … Read More History and Education in Alice Walker’s “The Third Life of Grange Copeland”

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“Miss Jane is not in them”: Voices in Historical Narratives

Over the past couple of posts, I have written about the role of history and literature in countering prevailing myths about the past and the present. Today, I want to continue that discussion by looking at a couple of scene from Ernest J. Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971). On Thursday, I will finish this series by looking at a section from … Read More “Miss Jane is not in them”: Voices in Historical Narratives

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I’m the Victim of America’s Sin. I’m What Sin Is.

Over the last couple of posts, I have written about Jeff Nichols’ Loving and the legal constructions of race. Today, I want to conclude that discussion by looking some at Jean Toomer’s Cane (1923) and Ernest J. Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971). In each of these texts, published close to fifty years apart, Toomer and Gaines highlight the ways that words … Read More I’m the Victim of America’s Sin. I’m What Sin Is.

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Interracial Intimacy in Ernest Gaines’ “Bloodline”

As I read Ernest Gaines’ “Bloodline” recently, the interactions between ‘Malia and Frank Laurent stood out. The story, essentially, centers around Copper, the son of Frank’s brother Walter who raped Copper’s mother. Copper has returned to the Laurent plantation to claim what is his, by birth. Essentially, he arrives to overthrow the system that denies him an existence due to the fact that his … Read More Interracial Intimacy in Ernest Gaines’ “Bloodline”

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“African American Literature and the American West” Syllabus

The photo above is of the head of Canyon de Chelly by Timothy O’Sullivan.  For my dissertation, I explored the connections between the ways that African American, Native American, and white women authors used Scottish Enlightenment rhetoric to argue for their positions within the body politic of the United States. One of the key aspects that arose from the dissertation was the ways that African American and … Read More “African American Literature and the American West” Syllabus

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Education and Poverty in Junot Díaz’s “Drown”

Reading Junot Díaz’s “Drown,” my mind constantly kept going back to texts such as Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and James Baldwin who said, “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” Along with these items, I also thought about the power structures that keep Yunior de Las Casas in subjugation and essentially strip … Read More Education and Poverty in Junot Díaz’s “Drown”