The imaginative literature of African and Afro-American authors writing in Western languages has long been seen as standing outside the Western literary canon. In fact, however, black literature not only has a complex formal relation to that canon, but tends to revise and reflect Western rhetorical strategies even more than it echoes black vernacular literary forms.
This book, first published in 1984, is divided into two sections, thus clarifying the nature of black literary theory on the one hand, and the features of black literary practice on the other. Rather than merely applying contemporary Western theory to black literature, these critics instead challenge and redefine the theory in order to make fresh, stimulating comments not only on black criticism and literature but also on the general state of criticism today.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Criticism in the Jungle Henry Louis Gates, Jr; Part 1: Theory on Structuralism and Post-Structuralism; 1. The Critic and Society: Barthes, Leftocracy and Other Mythologies Wole Soyinka 2. Repetition as a Figure of Black Culture James A. Snead 3. Structural Analysis of the Afro-American Trickster Tale Jay Edwards 4. Negritude, Structuralism, Deconstruction Sunday O. Anozie 5. Strictures on Structures: The Prospects for a Structuralist Poetics of African Fiction Anthony Appiah 6. I Yam Who I Am: The Topos of (Un)naming in Afro-American Literature Kimberly W. Benston; Part 2: Practice; 7. Storytelling in Early Afro-American Fiction: Frederick Douglass’s ‘The Heroic Slave’ Robert B. Stepto 8. Untroubled Voice: Call and Response in ‘Cane’ Barbara E. Bowen 9. Metaphor, Metonymy and Voice in ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ Barbara Johnson 10. To Move Without Moving: Creativity and Commerce in Ralph Ellison’s Trueblood Episode Houston A. Baker, Jr 11. ‘Taming All That Anger Down’: Range and Silence in Gwendolyn Brooks’s ‘Maud Martha’ Mary Helen Washington 12. Eruptions of Funk: Historicizing Toni Morrison Susan Willis 13. The Blackness of Blackness: A Critique of the Sign and the Signifying Monkey Henry Louis Gates, Jr; Index