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Nineteenth-Century Black Women’s Literary Emergence

Evolutionary Spirituality, Sexuality, and Identity- An Anthology


SallyAnn H. Ferguson

Since her forced migration to the United States, the African American woman has consciously developed a literary tradition based on fundamental evolutionary principles of mind and body. She has consistently resisted attempts by patriarchs and matriarchs alike to romanticize and redefine that biologically-based literary heritage. This volume of ten classic texts, including such nineteenth-century writers as Jarena Lee, Harriet Jacobs, and Angelina Grimké, documents for teachers and general readers how African American female self-portraits gradually crystallized over some three centuries of brutality imposed by white men and their surrogates, who legally raped and then branded her immoral, precisely because she was black and female. This anthology also explores how her literary features were further defined during the postbellum era of Jim Crow segregation and civil rights abuses. Readers cannot adequately understand this woman’s unique story without learning how and, more importantly, why mental and physical atrocities so gruesome that most people cringe to think of them were inflicted upon her black female self in this land.
Contents: Introduction: «Evolutionary Sexuality, Spirituality, and Identity: 19th-Century Black Women’s Literary Emergence» – Maria W. Stewart (1803-1879): Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality, the Sure Foundation on Which We Must Build (1831) (Short Essay) – Jarena Lee (1783-?): The Life and Religious Experiences of Jarena Lee, A Coloured Lady, Giving an Account of Her Call To Preach the Gospel. Revised and Corrected from the Original Manuscript, Written by Herself. (1836) (Short Spiritual Narrative) – Harriet E. Adams Wilson (1828?-1863?): From: Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a Two-Story White House, North, Showing That Slavery’s Shadows Fall even There. By «Our Nig» (1859) (Short Novel) – Harriet A. Jacobs (1813-1897): From: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (1861) (Fugitive Slave Narrative) – Elizabeth Keckley (1818?-1907): From: Behind the Scenes: Elizabeth Keckley, Formerly a Slave, but More Recently Modiste, and Friend to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868) (Short Postbellum Slave Narrative) – Frances E. Watkins Harper (1824-1911): «The Two Offers» (1859) (Short Story) – Charlotte L. Forten Grimké (1837-1914): «Life on the Sea Islands» (May and June, 1864) (Short Essay) – Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964): «Womanhood a Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race» From A Voice from the South (1892) (Short Essay) – Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931): Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892) (Short Essay) – Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958): Rachel: A Play in Three Acts (1920) (Short Play).