Twentieth-Anniversary Reflections on Written by Herself: Literary Production by African American Women, 17461892 by Frances Smith Foster Although I received a PhD from the University of Virginia, where I specialized in nineteenth-century American literature, back in the late 1980s those credentials didn't require any particular knowledge of African American literature, and certainly not of any tradition of African American writing. At best, understanding African American literature meant knowing about a handful of books that could be fruitfully compared with the work of such major writers as Melville or Hawthorne--with, of course, the terms of the comparison inevitably being defined by the writers and tradition I knew. Thankfully, my students-- all African American for a time, as I was involved in a recruitment program at Virginia--were only too happy to guide me toward an awareness of my ignorance. Because of them, I started on a self-determined program of reading that seemed to me more demanding than the PhD program I had just completed, particularly in that I'm still working on it today. Fortunately, I was blessed with excellent mentors, William Andrews and Francis Smith Foster, both of whom I had never met and would not meet or even communicate
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 4, 2014
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