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Existentialist Thought in African American Literature before 1940

Edited by Melvin Hill - Contributions by Renee Barlow; Chase Dimock; Timothy Golden and Jeannine King

Existentialist Thought in African American Literature Before 1940 is the first collection of its kind to break new ground in arguing that long before its classification by Jean-Paul Sartre, African American literature embodied existentialist thought. To make its case, this daring book dissects eight notable texts: Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) and My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I A Woman (1861), Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl (1861), Sutton E. Griggs’s Imperium in Imperio (1899), James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), and Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929). It explores and addresses a wide range of complex philosophical concepts such as: authenticity, potentiality-for-authentic living, bad faith, and existentialism from the Christian point of view. The use of interdisciplinary studies such as gender studies, queer studies, Christian ethics, mixed-race studies, and existentialism, allows the authors within this book to lend unique perspectives in examining selected African American literary works. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 110Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-4985-1480-4 • Hardback • December 2015 • $70.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-4985-1481-1 • eBook • December 2015 • $66.00 • (£44.95)
Melvin Hill is associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Martin.
Introduction: The Legacy of Existentialism in African American Literature Before 1940
Melvin Hill
Chapter 1: Morality, Art, and the Self: Existentialism in Frederick Douglass and Søren Kierkegaard
Timothy Golden
Chapter 2: I’m Not Here: Existential Acts in 19th Century African American Women’s Narrative
Jeannine King
Chapter 3: Sutton E. Griggs’s Existential Vision in Imperium in Imperio: The New Negro
Melvin G. Hill
Chapter 4: Existential Authenticity in Early 20th Century African-American Passing Narratives
Renee Barlow
Chapter 5: “Clare Kendry Cared Nothing For the Race. She Only Belonged to It”: The Intersectional Bad Faith of Race and Gender in Nella Larsen’s Passing
Chase Dimock
About the Contributors