African American Literatury Essay
African American Literatury
African-American literature can be defined as writings by people of African descent living in the United States of America. The African-American literary tradition began with the oral culture long before any of the materials in it were written on. Throughout their American history, African-Americans have used the oral culture as a natural part of black expressive culture. They are very powerful voices that give fuller meanings to words on a page.
The America South is an important landscape in African-American literature. The South was a primary port of entry for slaving vessels. Most black slaves remained in the Southern states. The South was an important place for the African-American literature because the South was served as the site of hope and change for the black slaves but there were also horrors. The majority of African captives entered the New World from the Southern ports and remained in the Southern states.
They relied heavily on the African cultural heritage and belief systems familiar to them. During their 300 years of slavery and servitude, black slaves and their descendants developed a complex relationship with the South. Amiri Baraka concluded that the South is a part of the scene of the crime, a land that is about the site of hope and the scene of the crime. For many African Americans, the South serves as the site of hope and change. The South has given birth to many African-American cultural practices, such as literature.
This is the spiritual and ancestral home for African Americans and plays a dominant role in African-American literature. Before the American Civil War, African-American literature primarily focused on the issue of slavery, as indicated by the subgenre of slave narratives The most noted authors were all incited and inspired by the goings on in the south. Frederick Douglass was one of the most important African-American authors from the literary landscape in the South.
He chronicled his life from bondage to freedom in his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845), which helped the American public to know the truth about the institution of slavery and dismiss the myth that slaves were happy and treated well. He said, the South was not only a notorious site of slavery, it was also a landscape of racial terror and widespread violence. The biggest crime the South ever committed is the institution and perpetuation of slavery.
But the Southern landscape is more than just the “scene of the crime” in African-American literature. It has multiple personalities that demand multiple treatments. Many 20th-century African-American writers, whether born and raised in the South or not, have used the southern landscape in their works to explore the complex relationships African-American communities have with the South. In her poem “Southern Song,” Margaret Walker (1915 – 1998) sings a praise song to the southern suns and southern land despite the “mobs” and “a nightmare full of oil and flame.
” Southern Song I want my body bathed again by southern suns, my soul reclaimed again from southern land. I want to rest again in southern fields, in grass and hay and clover bloom; to lay my hand again upon the clay baked by a southern sun, to touch the rain-soaked earth and smell the smell of soil. I want my rest unbroken in the fields of southern earth; freedom to watch the corn wave silver in the sun and mark the splashing of a brook, a pond with ducks and frogs and count the clouds.
I want no mobs to wrench me from my southern rest; no forms to take me in the night and burn my shack and make for me a nightmare full of oil and flame. I want my careless song to strike no minor key; no fiend to stand between my body’s soutnern song–the fusion of the South, my body’s song and me. Margaret Walker’s poem characterizes the complex literary representations of the South in a great deal of African-American literature, for the speaker at once basks in the beauty of her homeland (“I want my body bathed again by southern suns”).
Yet at the same time experiences a homecoming complicated by the threat of Southern violence (“I want no mobs to wrench me from my southern rest”). The theme of the southern home and its layered history is a prevalent one throughout the tradition of African-American literature. In conclusion, 90 percent of African-Americans lived in the South, it is no wonder that this landscape has taken on a great deal of cultural and historical significance. Literature from the South is complex and often absurd, as the region emerges repeatedly as a site of home.
Subject: African American,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 December 2016
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