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Chapter 1 - Crafting a Credible Black Self in African American Life Writing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2021

Joycelyn Moody
Affiliation:
University of Texas, San Antonio
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Summary

Moody’s introduction observes that works of African American autobiography predate even the oft-cited 1760 Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, and the 1783 petition to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed by Belinda Royall (Sutton). Moody argues the genre of Black life writing has persistently appealed to African American authors telling life stories in promoting diverse causes from a range of African-descended ethnic backgrounds. She contends that the financial rewards of Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming — and the testimonies it has generated — reveal African American readers look to each other for life narratives of diverse Black experiences that enable the construction, constitution, and promulgation of a credible Black self. Moreover, Moody asserts, the persistent cultural shifts of African American life writing as literary and historical phenomena have been well documented. Joining a long trajectory of critical studies, the introduction establishes the prominence of Black life writing across US history.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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