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The Contemporary African American Novel



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Introduction The Contemporary African American Novel Its Folk Roots and Modern Literary Branches is a sociohistorical sociocultural and sociopsychological critical history of the contemporary African American novel as a socially symbolic act of cultural politics and narrative discourse The strategic essentialism and oppositional discourse for interpreting African American narratives that I proposed in the introduction and first chapter of The Afro American Novel and Its Tradition in 1987 has its origins in two interrelated theories The first is a sociohistorical sociocultural and sociopsychological theory of Du Boisian double consciousness and double vision And the second is a vernacular theory of residual oral forms oratory including everyday speech acts myth including its ritual reenactment legend tale and song or music In the earlier book I analyzed the relationship of the double consciousness and five vernacular oral forms to the distinctive thematic stylistic and structural characteristics of the African American novel from its beginnings in 1853 to major achievements in the genre in 1983 For example in 1983 Alice Walker s National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning Color Purple marked the culmination of the achievement of black female novelists and John Edgar Wideman s Homewood trilogy revitalized the power of an Afrocentric aesthetic for black male novelists Because this book begins in 1962 but focuses primarily on novels and romances published between 1983 and 2001 chapter 1 maps the terrain and definition of the terms for understanding the book s rhetoric politics and poetics of representation Chapters 2 5 are revisions and summaries of chapters 1 8 in The Afro American Novel and Its Tradition More specifically chapters 2 and 3 survey the sociohistorical sociocultural and sociopsychological landscape and roots as well as the peaks and valleys of the African American novel and its 2 tradition from 1853 to 1962 Chapters 4 and 5 update and clarify the



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