African-American Criticism

African-American criticism

this school of criticism challenges established ideologies, racial boundaries, and racial prejudice. It also acknowledges and incorporates the writings of past and often suppressed and forgotten African-American literature, the major historical movements

Phyllis Wheatley

she was one of the first prominent African-American poets in early America - her personal story embodies the effects of slavery in American literature and in American culture

Jupiter Hammon

contemporary of Phyllis Wheatley, he was the author of the first poem published by a black American ("An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries" in 1761)

Ignatius Sancho

the first African-American critic who praised Wheatley's poetry

Slave narratives

a form of black literature in which former slaves recount their lives in slavery and their escapes to freedom - used by the antislavery movement preceding the Civil War to convince readers of the evils of slavery and to argue for its abolishment - most fa

W. E. B. DuBois

prominent African-American writer of the post-Civil War era, who authored the essay collection The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and was a founding member of the NAACP - argued that only by working together could African-Americans fight for equality and just

Booker T. Washington

prominent African-American writer and educator of the post-Civil War era, who founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and authored Up from Slavery and My Larger Education - unlike DuBois, he asserted that African-Americans must work WITHIN the social/po

Harlem Renaissance

rebirth" of black literature and art in the 1920s/'30s - brought about by huge influx of African-Americans into NYC from the South after WWI - black artists, poets, dancers, dramatists, and musicians gathered together in Harlem and celebrated African-Ame

New Negro

term coined by Alain LeRoy Locke that came to be synonymous with those who refused to submit to the Jim Crow laws

Langston Hughes

one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance, he was a novelist/dramatist/short story writer/poet/translator/children's author who asserted that African-Americans should embrace their blackness and their cultural integrity - by embracing their bla

Zora Neale Hurston

one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance, she wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God - did not author protest fiction but instead wrote literature that affirmed the black consciousness

Alice Walker

author/poet and leading African-American feminist who wrote The Color Purple - introduced the word "womanist" in literary criticism, a term that highlights the perspectives and experiences of "women of color

James Baldwin

author of the Civil Rights Era who wrote Go Tell It on the Mountain - addresses the concerns of the Civil Rights Movement in his fiction - avoiding the typical protest fiction, he captures in his prose what it is like to be black in an intensely personal

Richard Wright

novelist/essayist/activist of the Civil Rights Era who wrote Native Son, The Outsider, and White Man, Listen! - embraced Marxist Principles and opted to change the society in which he lived - writers must interact with (not isolate themselves from) societ

Ralph Ellison

writer of the Civil Rights Era who wrote only one novel, Invisible Man - he asserted that race is the central and most profound issue in America - unlike Wright, he argued that literature (especially the novel) should be a place of experimentation and spe

Black arts movement

spanning the decade from 1965 to 1975, this movement advocated black power (militant advocacy of self-armed defense) while inspiring a renewal and pride in African heritage and asserting the goodness and beauty of all things black - chief concern was the

Amiri Baraka

Greenwich Village beat poet who became the black arts movement's voice through its literary magazine Cricket

Abdul JanMohamed

one of the most influential postcolonial theorists and founding editor of Cultural Critique - authored Manichean Aesthetics: The Politics of Literature in Colonial Africa in which he argues that literature authored by the colonized is more interesting for


the quality of a text that consists of the complexities of the world it reveals


subjective qualities concerning what a text perceives

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

perhaps the most important and leading contemporary African-American theorist, who directs much of his attention to other African-American critics - provides a theoretical framework for developing a peculiarly black African-American literary canon - insis


the phenomenon of African-American literature drawing on two voices and vultures, the white and the black