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Reading Contemporary African American Drama

Fragments of History, Fragments of Self


Trudier Harris and Jennifer Larson

Contemporary African American dramatists such as Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, August Wilson, and Suzan-Lori Parks as well as Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Childress, and Pearl Cleage find their creative inspiration in historical events from slavery to the civil rights movement. From the Emmett Till-inspired character in Baldwin’s Blues for Mister Charlie to Parks’s recreation of Lincoln and Booth, these playwrights show that history is the mirror that shapes the identities of African American writers and characters.
Contents: Trudier Harris: Introduction: Cracking the Mirror of History: Or, Shaping Identity in African American Drama – Rachelle S. Gold: «Education has spoiled many a good plow hand»: How Beneatha’s Knowledge Functions in A Raisin in the Sun – Matthew Luter: Dutchman’s Signifyin(g) Subway: How Amiri Baraka Takes Ralph Ellison Underground – Meredith M. Malburne: No Blues for Mister Henry: Locating Richard’s Revolution – Joy E. Cranshaw: African Queens and Messed-Up Chicks: Representations of Identity in Alice Childress’s Wine in the Wilderness – Pamela Hamilton: Child’s play: Ntozake Shange’s Audience of Colored Girls – Benjamin Sammons: Flyin’ «Anyplace Else»: (Dis)Engaging Traumatic Memory in Three Plays by Pearl Cleage – John M. Hannah: «A World Made in My Image»: Romare Bearden’s Collagist Technique in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – John M. Hannah: Signifying Raisin: Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Wilson’s Fences – Jennifer Larson: Folding and Unfolding History: Identity Fabrication in Suzan-Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog – Jennifer Larson: «With Deliberate Calculation»: Money, Sex, and the Black Playwright in Suzan-Lori Park’s Venus.