Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
Jane Campbell's timely study -- a revision of her 1977 Ph.D. dissertation -- appears as an early and sustained response to Afro-American mythmaking, one of the central concerns of current black scholarship. Campbell posits that, to counter the dehumanized experience of blacks in America, Afro-American writers from 1853 to the present have utilized the romance genre to infuse history "with a mythic dimension," thereby transforming their characters from victims into actors who can change history. Beginning with William Wells Brown's Clotel (1853) and ending with David Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident 1981), Campbell's exploration of the transcendent nature of black writing covers the eras of slavery, post-Reconstruction and the decades leading to the present. In the eighties, black writers are utilizing the myth-making process by emphasizing their common Afro-American heritage, frequently incorporating elements of both Judeo-Christian and African mythology.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1988