This volume offers the most nuanced treatment available of Black engagement with print in the transitional years after the Civil War. It locates and studies materials that many literary historians leave out of narratives of American culture. But as important as such recovery work is, African American Literature in Transition, 1865–1880 also emphasizes innovative approaches, recognizing that such recovery inherently challenges methods dominant in American literary study. At the book's core is the recognition that many period texts - by writers from Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and William Wells Brown to Mattie Jackson and William Steward - are not only aesthetically striking but also central to understanding key socio-historical and cultural trends in the nineteenth century. Chapters by leading scholars are grouped in three sections - 'Citizenships, Textualities, and Domesticities', 'Persons and Bodies', and 'Memories, Materialities, and Locations' - and focus on debates over race, nation, personhood, and print that were central to Reconstruction.
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