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Tag: black history

Janet Neary. Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives

Janet Neary. Fugitive Testimony: On the Visual Logic of Slave Narratives. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. 222p., ill. ISBN 9780823272891. US$ 27.00 (paperback), US$ 95.00 (hardcover).

I have written a number of reviews, but rarely do I crack open a book to review and immediately become so immersed that I have trouble putting the book down. Only a couple pages in, I found myself scribbling notes in the margins, asking questions, and tying the subject matter to my own research and exhibitions. Fugitive Testimony is interdisciplinary, comparing and contrasting historical slave narratives and narratives in contemporary art.

Eric Gardner. Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture

Eric Gardner. Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 329p. ISBN 9780190237080. US$ 29.95.

With Black Print Unbound, Eric Gardner has significantly advanced the study of African American culture and history while at the same time giving a master class in working across the various methods of inquiry and styles of research gathered under the big tent of print culture studies. Black Print Unbound is a study of the Christian Recorder, the weekly newspaper of the AME Church, as a publication “conceived by African Americans, edited by African Americans, written primarily by African Americans, and largely distributed by African Americans to an almost completely African American audience” (4).

Robert J. Norrell. Alex Haley and the Books That Changed a Nation

Robert J. Norrell. Alex Haley and the Books That Changed a Nation. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015. x, 251p., ill. ISBN 9781137279606. US $27.00 (hardback).

It is difficult to believe that this is the first biography of Alex Haley, the author who wrote perhaps the two most influential books on African-American history in the twentieth century. Robert Norrell skillfully examines the extraordinary achievements of the enigmatic man behind Roots (1976) and The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), books that transformed Americans’ understanding of race.

Cheryl Knott. Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow

Cheryl Knott. Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015. x, 312p., ill. ISBN 9781625341785. US $28.95.

Cheryl Knott’s Not Free, Not For All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow is a long overdue study that examines twentieth-century African-American information history and counters the fictive image of American public libraries as community spaces accessible to all. Knott argues convincingly that restricted library access for African Americans was a willful act, codified in state legislative policies that were subsequently enforced by Southern librarians.

Nicole N. Aljoe and Ian Finseth, eds. Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas

Nicole N. Aljoe and Ian Finseth, eds. Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780813936383. US $29.50 (paperback and ebook); US $59.50 (hardback).

“Books … have life spans and life chances… that correlate positively with the race of the author” argues Joanna Brooks in her brilliant essay, “The Unfortunates: What the Life Spans of Early Black Books Tell Us about Book History.” Brooks is particularly interested in “those substantial, more pricey books of more than forty-eight pages.” Still, we can cautiously extend her insight to other racialized material texts, which face some of the same existential challenges, from “being written, published, sold, bought, read, reprinted, [and] circulated” in the first place to being “collected and preserved” over time.