Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 May 2021
The six chapters in this part chart the myriad ways in which African American writers engaged with concerns and communities located beyond the boundaries of the United States. Hannah Spahn reveals the key theoretical intervention made by David Walker in his Appeal. Examining the work in its 1830 and 1848 iterations, Spahn unpacks the theory of cosmopolitanism developed by Walker and traces its effects. The part’s next two chapters take up the effect of emancipation in the British West Indies on African American literature. Pia Wiegmink explores the effect of emancipation in Jamaica, in particular, on the work of Nancy Prince. Connecting Prince’s commentary on Jamaica to her struggles with white-led abolitionist organizations, Wiegmink looks closely at how Black freedom abroad could be used to critique the policies of US-based abolitionists. Moving from prose to poetry, Nicole N. Aljoe traces how August 1st celebrations of West Indian Emancipation in the United States impacted the works of Frances Ellen Watkins and James Whitfield. As Aljoe shows, such celebrations not only provided an occasion for Watkins and Whitfield to write and perform poetry, but also indelibly shaped the form and content of their works. David Luis-Brown’s chapter remains in the Caribbean but shifts to the island of Cuba and the La Escalera conspiracy in the mid-1840s. As Luis-Brown reveals, this conspiracy between free and enslaved people of color in the Spanish colony to overthrow their oppressors takes center stage in the later novels of Martin Delany and Andrés Avelino de Orihuela, each of whom turns to La Escalera in order to develop a particular vision of Black revolution in the hemisphere.