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ISBN: PB: 9781940939766

University of Chicago Press, 2Leaf Press

November 2019

212 pp.

21.5x13.9 cm


Designs of Blackness

Mappings in the Literature and Culture of African Americans

The wealth and breadth of literature produced by African Americans is staggering and dates to the earliest days of black presence in the United States. A. Robert Lee's "Designs of Blackness" takes on the critical and expansive task of mapping the traditions that influenced African American writing composed between 1746 and the present, in the process addressing the work of more than one hundred and fifty authors. Lee discusses writers like Phyllis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, and Toni Morrison who have published books of poetry, history, and fiction, but he also considers works from oral and vernacular genres, including the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the blues songs of Bessie Smith. Through this broad lens, Lee comments on significant moments in African American history and thought, as well as the threads that link these figures.             Newly updated in this twentieth-anniversary edition, "Designs of Blackness" is a monument to the incredible creative force of literature by African Americans, and an invaluable tool to anyone interested in American culture and history.

About the Author

A. Robert Lee served as a professor of English at the University of Kent and now lives in Spain.