Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Notes on P. Gabrielle Foreman's "Riff, Call, and Response" Pt. 1

P. Gabrielle Foreman has an important essay "A Riff, A Call, and A Response: Reframing the Problem That Led to Our Being Tokens in Ethnic and Gender Studies; or, Where Are We Going Anyway and with Whom Will We Travel?" in Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers  (Vol. 30 No. 2, 2013) As the extended title suggests, she covers considerable ground. What I'll try to do here (in a series of short entries) is address some of the issues that caught my attention from the article.

In general, Foreman's article identifies some instances where African American literary scholars and their scholarship were seemingly excluded from projects that focused on African American print culture. In subsequent blog entries, I'm going to review some of what she discusses in those instances. But first, I should perhaps clarify what makes her essay important in my view.
For one, literary scholars devote most of their publishing energies to articles and books about literary topics, not the field or profession. Foreman's article is rare in that sense of trying to take stock of what's going on out there/here in the field along the lines, especially, of African American literature on the level of seminars and conference line-ups. 

In addition, the question of  African American scholars -- black women scholars in particular -- apparently being overlooked and excluded, which Foreman addresses, is one of continuing significance. As Foreman's references reveal, the issue has been percolating by previous generations of black women scholars.   

Finally, the orientation to a broader audience stands out. Over the decades, African American literary studies have succeeded in the production of an expansive body of scholarship. That success or broad coverage led modern-day scholars in the field to start producing specialized projects. Thus, the work of a scholar of 19th century black literature might not come to the attention of, say, someone like me who studies late 20th and early 21st century black artistic writing. So it's telling (in ways that I'll try to elaborate on later) that a kind of activist piece by Foreman might gain some attention.  

Notes on P. Gabrielle Foreman's "Riff, Call, and Response" Pt. 2
Divisions between Print Culture & African American Literary Scholars
The Demographics of Literary fields (and sub-fields)
From Maryemma Graham to more Af-Am Literary Field Notes  
Digital humanities, print culture & African American literary studies 

No comments: