Toni Morrison lecture at West Point Military Academy in March 2013. African-American literature is the body of literature produced in the African literature in english pdf States by writers of African descent. It begins with the works of such late 18th-century writers as Phillis Wheatley.
Before the high point of slave narratives, African-American literature was dominated by autobiographical spiritual narratives. As African Americans’ place in American society has changed over the centuries, so has the focus of African-American literature. At the turn of the 20th century, non-fiction works by authors such as W. Washington debated how to confront racism in the United States.
In broad terms, African-American literature can be defined as writings by people of African descent living in the United States. African-American literature has generally focused on the role of African Americans within the larger American society and what it means to be an American. African-American literature has both been influenced by the great African diasporic heritage and shaped it in many countries. African-American oral culture is rich in poetry, including spirituals, gospel music, blues, and rap. Some scholars resist using Western literary theory to analyze African-American literature. As the Harvard literary scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. African-American history predates the emergence of the United States as an independent country, and African-American literature has similarly deep roots.
Lucy Terry is the author of the oldest known piece of African-American literature, “Bars Fight”. Terry wrote the ballad in 1746 after an Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts. She was enslaved in Deerfield at the time of the attack, when many residents were killed and more than 100, mostly women and children, were taken on a forced march overland to Montreal. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in 1773, three years before American independence.
Wheatley was not only the first African American to publish a book, but the first to achieve an international reputation as a writer. As a result of the skepticism surrounding her work, Poems on Various Subjects was republished with “several introductory documents designed to authenticate Wheatley and her poetry and to substantiate her literary motives. Hammon, considered the first published Black writer in America, published his poem “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries” as a broadside in early 1761. In 1786, Hammon gave his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York”. Writing at the age of 76 after a lifetime of slavery, Hammon said: “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves. Brown, on the other hand, was a prominent abolitionist, lecturer, novelist, playwright, and historian in the United States.
Born into slavery in Kentucky, Brown was working on riverboats based in St. Louis, Missouri, when he escaped to Ohio. Webb’s 1857 novel, The Garies and Their Friends, was also published in England, with prefaces by Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry, Lord Brougham. It expressed the difficulties of lives of northern free Blacks. Our Nig was rediscovered and republished by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Another recently discovered work of early African-American literature is The Bondwoman’s Narrative, which was written by Hannah Crafts between 1853 and 1860. Crafts was a fugitive slave from Murfreesboro, North Carolina. If her work was written in 1853, it would be the first African-American novel written in the United States. A genre of African-American literature that developed in the middle of the 19th century is the slave narrative, accounts written by fugitive slaves about their lives in the South and, often, after escaping to freedom. They wanted to describe the cruelties of life under slavery, as well as the persistent humanity of the slaves as persons. The slave narratives were integral to African-American literature.