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Frank J. Webb and the Fate of the Sentimental Race Man

  • Michael Borgstrom
Chapter
  • 43 Downloads
Part of the The Future of Minority Studies book series (FMS)

Abstract

As the example of Harriet E. Wilson’s Our Nig illustrates, the literary expectations attached to the works of early African American authors have not only aesthetic but also political ramifications. If such texts are implicitly expected to provide first-hand insight into the historical realities of black culture, so too are they expected to focus on what are assumed to be specifically African American concerns and to utilize what are assumed to be specifically African American narrative modes. In other words, as Frances Smith Foster points out, there exists still a significant critical expectation that the works of early black authors should feel and sound “authentically” black. Moreover, as critic Ann duCille notes, there remains a scholarly “tendency to treat black literary texts not as fictive invention but as transparent historical documents, evaluated in terms of their fidelity to ‘the black experience’ and their attention to ‘authentically black’ subject matter.” As a result, duCille argues, “this racial litmus test has misread the aesthetics and politics of much of the early work of African American authors.”1

Keywords

Racial Identity Racial Activism Identity Category Racial Prejudice Black Middle Class 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ann duCille, The Coupling Convention: Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women’s Fiction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 6Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arthur P. Davis, introduction to The Garies and Their Friends, by Frank J. Webb (New York: Arno Press, 1969), viii.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Robert Reid-Pharr, introduction to The Garies and Their Friends, by Frank J. Webb (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), viii.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Frank J. Webb, The Garies and Their Friends (1857; reprint, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 137.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Gene Andrew Jarrett, Deans and Truants: Race and Realism in African American Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 5.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    Gene Andrew Jarrett, “Introduction: ‘Not Necessarily Race Matter,’” in African American Literature beyond Race: An Alternative Reader, ed. Gene Andrew Jarrett (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 2Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Borgstrom 2010

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  • Michael Borgstrom

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