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Encyclopedia of African-American Writing


A timely survey of an important sector of American letters, The Encyclopedia of African-American Writing covers the role and influence of African American cultural leaders, from all walks of life, from the 18th century to the present. Readers will explore what inspired various African-American writers to create poems, plays, short stories, novels, essays, opinion pieces and numerous other works, and how those writings contributed to culture in America today.

Section One: Profiles
This section, with 800 detailed profiles, includes 30 brand new entries and hundreds of updated entries.  You’ll read about the various historical movements that helped shape African-American writing in the United States, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Power Movement, as well as writers from the Revolutionary and Antibellum eras right on up to the 21st century. The A to Z profiles include:

  • MacArthur Fellowship Winners - Jesmyn Ward, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Chimamanda Adichie
  • Methodist Preachers - John Marrant, David George, and Boston King
  • Fiction Writers and Storytellers - Frederick Douglass, Phillis Wheatley, and Hannah Crafts

Section Two: Primary Documents
This section includes actual writings of 42 writers profiled in this edition. Some excerpted, and most in their entirety, these writings take the reader on a literary journey of African-American writing, from the 1635 slavery contract to Alica Garza’s “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”

These documents are categorized into nine sections, and have their own table of contents. Each section is supported by a brief introduction that sets the historical stage of the writing samples that follow.

Section Three: Appendices
This section includes seven valuable appendices:

  • Chronology of Writers - lists all individual writers by birth date
  • Chronology of Firsts - summarizes significant "first" events by categories
  • Graphically designed Timeline - clearly and interestingly overlaps significant events in the writing lives of African Americans with relevant current events
  • Writers by Genre - categorizes all entries by one or more of 26 genres
  • Writers by Occupation - categorizes all entries by one or more of 210 occupations
  • References - give full citations for more than 300 references used throughout this edition
  • Key to References - helps the reader identify references that are abbreviated at the end of the profiles

More than a collection of biographies, this important work traces the evolution of African-American writers, their struggles, triumphs, and legacy, this volume is not to be missed. A comprehensive, easy to use source that will complement the reference collection of any public, high school or university library, and will prove useful to all university humanities and African American studies reference collections.


This edition comes with FREE ONLINE ACCESS on the popular Salem Press platform, https://online.salempress.com.  With unlimited users and remote access included, your students and researchers can now search this amazing collection of data, anytime & anywhere, all just a click away.

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