topics for african american literature essay

topics for african american literature essay

Exploring the Evolution and Impact of African American Literature

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1. Introduction to African American Literature

African American literature may be folktales, oral stories, spirituals, or a variety of other stories which have been passed down by generation, or it may stem from black experiences and depict a social message, despite the trickster in the boy’s desire for more strength, or strength with certain implications. Harlem Renaissance literature, for example, was generally literature for people and had much to do with self-pride and the efforts of black intellectuals to change academia’s concept of and about African Americans. Contemporary black literature deals with self-consciousness regarding black societies, gay relationships, mothering, male bonding, urban relocation, superstition, children experiencing slavery and drugs. All of these experiences impact African American culture, creating the impetus for their existence as literary works.

In the ideal literary world, all kinds of experiences are represented – from life in the United States, Africa, or any culture. Ethnic literature reflects a slice of life within a particular community: its goals, its despair, its fears, its dreams. African American literature connects with the world around it, illustrating social thought, action, and social change, although according to some, it is as much about the past as it is about the present or the future.

2. Key Themes and Movements in African American Literature

In the presence of black characters in African American texts, certain blues, jazz, and hip-hop expressions about black citizens are rhetorical not reflective of actual community behaviors. Religious weakness is a contributing factor to insisted, public personae obscuring neo-soul communal weakness. Contemporary African American triumphalist public rhetors do not allude to ethnicity, but these opinion leaders are wed to capital-generating commercial product and social class congruence. The hardening of a racially inclusive gospel tradition derailed Ethel Waters’ self-defining, unique artistic expression of the African diaspora in her original African American journey indexing manner what would subsequently emerge as a U.S. African American consciousness.

African American literature, particularly written since the 1970s, often marks its distance from historical racial protest and calls for communal autonomy. Pioneering 1970s writers optimistic about expanded, empowered historical scope and racial identity are part of a larger “neo-soul” expressive movement found in contemporary print satire, music video, and film. A fictive assertion of U.S. black writers from Charles W. Chesnutt to Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison was affinity with American record and occurrence. A more loyal pessimist referent was past African diaspora history. Newer employment assumes difficult core and communal decline among African Americans.

3. Prominent African American Authors and Their Works

African American literature also redefines the African American identity. Important works of African American literature include Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Because of their writers’ groundbreaking work, these texts have shaped and begun to redefine traditional definitions of the African American literary tradition. African American literature will only improve over time, growing in magnitude and influence, educating and challenging the popular imagination in both its substance and depth. It will continue to apply the fresh and inspiring vision essential to a truly great literature. In fact, it already has. With its roots in spirituals, gospel, and blues, African American literature has long been recognized as an important literary voice. While this literature is best understood in the context of American history, African American literary works have also contributed to the global imitation of African American culture. African American literature also has come to represent its own unique genre, expressing the strength, humor, and the remnants of cultural uniqueness in spite of centuries of oppression. Audience members who delve into the works of African American literature will further their understanding of the African experience throughout the world.

African American literature is one of the absolute richest and most exciting bodies of literature in the world. It encompasses every genre in the literary canon and is produced and enjoyed by people of every race and religion. Race and the treatment of people of color have been some of the most important topics in literature for almost a century, beginning in the late 18th century with the publication of the first book by an African-American. African American literature presents an incredibly unique and rich history with its elements of oral and written traditions, diverse authors, unique identity, and challenging demands.

4. Influence and Significance of African American Literature in Society

Educators, as well as critics generally, avoid the issue of the rawness of much of black literature. They see the material as a dispassionate inquiry into sociological relations, an exploratory communication with little to recommend except a clear voice and adherence to a traditional literate style. They keep hammering away at the presence of spirits in black works as if the problem were solely a religious one. But there is something about the works which affects many blacks and many of all other groups. We sense that the black experience goes beyond the mere recording of beliefs to a direct, primal confrontation with good versus evil; and we thus have the hidden strength of black American literature. Its inexorable observations and its passionate depth stand in marked contrast to the ultimate lack of importance in so much humorous, satirical, angry, bitter, even pessimistic works of literature. Its unsentimental observations of good and evil, the spirit and the human in confrontation stand in marked contrast to the suffocating stagnation of masses enslaved politically, socially, or morally.

In recent years, in our country where white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are searching for their spiritual and cultural roots and all ethnic groups are attempting to establish and mend their own fragmented identities, the relevance of the black literary experience in the larger context has never been so immediate. A fascinating aspect of African American literature is the communication of truths which are difficult for the white, middle class society to face when told directly but which can safely be inferred from the tragedy of black American fiction. As the Puerto Rican gets a transmission to identity via the history of brilliant Aztec, Maya or Inca civilizations, as the Chicano finds pride in the social organization of the pueblos, the African American feels a kinship with the still-proud African cultures his very religion attempted to replace.

5. Future Directions and Trends in African American Literature

Critical studies of authors of a non-traditional literary background (e.g. renowned critic Maurice E. Lee’s recent Contending with the Evil Idea, about what he refers to as antebellum black masculinity, underscoring the works of such pre-emancipation authors as Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and David Walker), as well as the upsurge in studies of authors such as Ed Bullins, who concentrates on the black experience of his era, are expanding current analyses. In addition, the premier critics engaged in African American literary analysis, from Sojourner Truth to Carl Bode to Richard Wright and to Houston Baker, have shaped the canon. Little actual criticism was undertaken, however, until the late 1950s, when the minority student protests and the Black Power movement prompted interest in the black experience.

The globalization of African American literature, bestsellers such as the novels of Terry McMillan, Alice Walker, and Stephen Carter, the major book clubs selecting an increasing number of books by African American authors, and recent encyclopedias that include two-volume sets dedicated to African American literature all illustrate its increasing acceptance and popularity. More PhDs are obtained in African American literature than any other ethnic literature on either the master’s or doctoral degree level. Recently, there has been a proliferation of scholarly texts that focus on specific themes (e.g. African American literary theory, the black “southern” experience, southern African American women writers, detective fiction, or speculative fiction).

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