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A History of the African American Novel


  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107061729

£ 36.99

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About the Authors
  • A History of the African American Novel offers an in-depth overview of the development of the novel and its major genres. In the first part of this book, Valerie Babb examines the evolution of the novel from the 1850s to the present, showing how the concept of black identity has transformed along with the art form. The second part of this History explores the prominent genres of African American novels, such as neoslave narratives, detective fiction, and speculative fiction, and considers how each one reflects changing understandings of blackness. This book builds on other literary histories by including early black print culture, African American graphic novels, pulp fiction, and the history of adaptation of black novels to film. By placing novels in conversation with other documents - early black newspapers and magazines, film, and authorial correspondence - A History of the African American Novel brings many voices to the table to broaden interpretations of the novel's development.

    • Emphasizes the culture surrounding novels, placing them in relation to ideas and debates of their time
    • Includes genres such as African American graphic novels, African American pulp fiction, and the history of African American novels that were made into movies, appealing to a broad audience
    • Synthesizes previous interpretations of African American novels, providing readers with knowledge of the evolution of African American scholarly interpretation as well as individual novels themselves
    • Avoids dense academic language, and therefore more accessible to the general reader
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This compendious work is a major achievement: Valerie Babb has carefully excavated a huge tradition, spanning more than 150 years and many kinds of writing. She has made a compelling argument for an African American tradition, while also acknowledging that some black writers wished to place themselves outside or at odds with that tradition. With its meticulous and wide survey, the book opens up a wealth of forgotten and neglected texts in every chapter.' Tim Armstrong, Royal Holloway, University of London

    'A much-needed comprehensive history of the African American novelistic imagination, this book tracks the chronological development of the black novel in the US and provides an in-depth look at various genres … Particularly valuable are the sections on speculative fiction and African American pulp, in which Babb (Univ. of Georgia) discusses writers who do not often receive critical academic attention, or at least not in a scholarly tome alongside established writers … Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.' D. J. Rosenthal, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107061729
    • length: 498 pages
    • dimensions: 239 x 166 x 34 mm
    • weight: 0.85kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. History: Introduction
    1. Out of many one: the beginnings of a novelistic tradition, 1850s–1900s
    2. Publish or perish: African American novels, 1900s–1920s
    3. Aesthetics of race and culture: African American novels, 1920s–1940s
    4. Home of the brave: African American novels, 1940s–1960s
    5. Black arts and beyond: African American novels, 1960s–1970s
    6. From margin to center: African American novels, 1970s–1990s
    7. 'Bohemian cult-nats': African American novels, 1990s and beyond
    Part II. Significant Genres of the African American Novel: Introduction
    8. The neo-slave narrative
    9. The detective novel
    10. The speculative novel
    11. African American pulp
    12. The black graphic novel
    13. African American novels from page to screen
    14. Novels of the diaspora.

  • Author

    Valerie Babb, University of Georgia
    Valerie Babb is Franklin Professor of English and Director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. She has been a professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC and a faculty member of the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, Vermont. Among her publications are Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture (1998), Black Georgetown Remembered (1991), a book and a video described as 'the history behind the Oprah Book Club selection River, Cross My Heart (1999),' and Ernest Gaines (1991). She edited The Langston Hughes Review from 2000–2010. She has been a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York and is the recipient of a W. M. Keck Foundation Fellowship in American Studies. She has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, and has presented a Distinguished W. E. B. Du Bois Lecture at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

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