Contemporary African American Literature
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More About This Title Contemporary African American Literature


In this volume, Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody-Turner have compiled a collection of essays that offer access to some of the most innovative contemporary black fiction while addressing important issues in current African American literary studies. Distinguished scholars Houston Baker, Trudier Harris, Darryl Dickson-Carr, and Maryemma Graham join writers and younger scholars to explore the work of Toni Morrison, Edward P. Jones, Trey Ellis, Paul Beatty, Mat Johnson, Kyle Baker, Danzy Senna, Nikki Turner, and many others. The collection is bracketed by a foreword by novelist and graphic artist Mat Johnson, one of the most exciting and innovative contemporary African American writers, and an afterword by Alice Randall, author of the controversial parody The Wind Done Gone. Together, King and Moody-Turner make the case that diversity, innovation, and canon expansion are essential to maintaining the vitality of African American literary studies.


Lovalerie King is Director of the Africana Research Center, Associate Professor, and Director of Graduate Studies in African American studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is author or co-editor of six books, including James Baldwin and Toni Morrison: Comparative and Theoretical Essays; Race, Theft, and Ethics: Property Matters in African American Literature; and New Essays on the African American Novel.

Shirley Moody-Turner is Assistant Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.


Mat Johnson, University of Houston
Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody-Turner, Penn State University
I. Politics of Publishing, Pedagogy, and Readership
1. The Point of Entanglement: Modernism, Diaspora, and Toni Morrison’s Love
Houston A. Baker, Jr., Vanderbilt University
2. The Historical Burden that Only Oprah Can Bear: African American
Satirists and the State of the Literature
Darryl Dickson-Carr, Southern Methodist University
3. Black is Gold: African American Literature, Literacy, and Pedagogical
Maryemma Graham, University of Kansas
4. Hip Hop Fiction (feat. Women Writers); or, Other Things Hip Hop Music Has Taught Black Fiction
Eve Dunbar, Vassar College
5. Street Literature and the Mode of Spectacular Writing: Popular Fiction between Sensationalism, Education, Politics and Entertainment
Kristina Graaff, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin
II. Alternative Genealogies
6. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Slave: Visual Artistry as Agency in the
Contemporary Narrative of Slavery
Evie Shockley, Rutgers University
7. Variations on the Theme: Black Family, Nationhood, Lesbianism and Sadomasochistic Desire in Marci Blackman’s Po Man’s Child
Carmen Phelps, University of Toledo
8. Bad-Brother-Man: Black Folk Figure Narratives in Comics
James Braxton Peterson, Bucknell University
III. Beyond Authenticity
9. Sampling the Sonics of Sex (Funk) in Paul Beatty’s Slumberland
L. H. Stallings, Indiana University
10. Urkel No More? Black Geeks in Contemporary Black Literature
Alexander Weheliye, Northwestern University
11. The Crisis of Authenticity in Contemporary African American Literature
Richard Schur, Drury University
12. Someday We’ll All Be Free: Contemporary Fiction and the Post-Oppression Narrative
Martha Southgate, Brooklyn Novelist
IV. Pedagogical Approaches and Implications
13. Untangling History, Dismantling Fear: Teaching Tayari Jones’s Leaving Atlanta
Trudier Harris, UNC-Chapel Hill, Emerita
14. Reading Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner with a Group of Collegiate Black Men
Howard Rambsy II, Southern Illinois University
15. Toward the Theoretical Practice of Conceptual Liberation: Using An Africana Studies Approach to Reading African American Literary Texts
Greg Carr, Howard University and Dana Williams, Howard University
Alice Randall, Vanderbilt Novelist
Annotated Bibliography
Pia Deas, Lincoln University and David Green, St. Johns University