Cover: What Was African American Literature?, from Harvard University PressCover: What Was African American Literature? in PAPERBACK

What Was African American Literature?

Add to Cart

Product Details


$17.00 • £13.95 • €15.50

ISBN 9780674066298

Publication Date: 09/03/2012

Academic Trade

192 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

The W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures


Most literary criticism today, under the sign of theory, is obscure and incomprehensible, and shies from presenting daring new ways to look at literature—when it engages with contemporary literature at all. Kenneth W. Warren’s book is an example of a book of literary criticism in elegant prose, completely accessible and jargon-free, yet making a sophisticated argument about a whole branch of literature, connecting politics and literature in a most exciting way.—Anis Shivani, The Huffington Post

A slight but forceful text with a pugnacious and elegantly presented thesis.Publishers Weekly

What Was African American Literature? is undoubtedly one of the most provocative books on the texts and criticism of African American literature to appear within the past several years. The sophistication and range of its arguments further cement Warren’s stature as one of the leading thinkers of our time.—Gene Jarrett, Boston University

Is the idea that sustains the possibility of an African American literature today the belief that the welfare of the race as a whole depends on the success of black writers and those who are depicted in their texts, as Ken Warren suggests in this provocative new book? In compelling close readings of novels from George Schuyler’s Black No More to Michael Thomas’s Man Gone Down and in comprehensive engagements with major tendencies in literary criticism, What Was African American Literature? punctures contemporary assumptions about the role of black literature since the end of the Jim Crow regime that, Warren argues, provoked the literature’s emergence in the first place.—Werner Sollors, Harvard University

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket: Forgotten Healers: Women and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy, by Sharon T. Strocchia, from Harvard University Press

Q&A with Sharon Strocchia, author of Forgotten Healers: Women and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy

As part of Women’s History Month, we spoke with Sharon T. Strocchia about her new book, Forgotten Healers: Women and the Pursuit of Health in Late Renaissance Italy, which uncovers the crucial role women played in the great transformations of medical science and health care that accompanied the Italian Renaissance. Your research demonstrates that women in Renaissance Italy played a major role in providing health care.

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.