Thursday, March 28, 2024

Black poetry and African American literary studies

I've spent some time with colleagues over the last couple months talking about the development of African American literary studies as a field. We ended up really talking about the late 1980s through the mid-1990s when there was, it seemed, an increase in scholarly production. 

I looked back on a 2014 blog entry, "African American Lit. & Literary Studies: A Timeline, 1986-2014," and I see I've been returning to these issues for quite some time now.

When I look at that moment, though, it occurs to me that many of the works that gained notice focused on African American fiction, not poetry. It's not that people didn't cover Black poetry, but there was nothing to the level that folks produced scholarship on Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and other novels. 

There was a larger convergence of scholars on Black fiction studies than on Black poetry studies. I suppose fiction touched people in different ways than poetry. Too, perhaps fiction lent itself to analyses in ways that poetry did not. 

I haven't fully figured it out yet, but I'm noting it here and will return to the topic as I gather more information. 

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