By Kenneth Mostern
Why has autobiography been vital to African American political speech during the 20th century? Kenneth Mostern illustrates the connection among narrative and racial different types equivalent to "colored", "Negro", "black" or "African American" within the paintings of writers resembling W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Angela Davis and bell hooks. Mostern exhibits how those autobiographical narratives try to build and remodel the political meanings of blackness. This wide-ranging learn will curiosity all these operating in African American experiences, cultural reports and literary thought.
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Extra resources for Autobiography and Black Identity Politics: Racialization in Twentieth-Century America (Cultural Margins)
We need to switch axes and address issues of subjectivity in the definition of autobiography. 33 For Gusdorf, what was definitive in autobiography was never the axis of referentiality, since he always understood narrative to be the invention of a life; rather, it always specified a particular relation of text and subject. While Gusdorf values autobiography (and the individual) as the product of a progressive history, it would be a mistake to accuse him of not recognizing that this textual individualism is local and ideological.
I don’t want anyone at any moment to interpret the story I’m about to tell as 32 African-American autobiography something that is only personal . . ’’10 Sommer herself is ambivalent about whether to call such a statement and such a textual practice ‘‘autobiographical,’’ since she worries that the term implies individualist narrative. Such ‘‘testimony on behalf of,’’ which is clearly one element in all African-American Autobiography Study (though how significant an element is something about which critics differ), is precisely that which permits us to see what is generally considered definitive by individualist scholarship: thus, regardless of the ‘‘success’’ or ‘‘failure’’ of the ‘‘I,’’ its testimony is only about itself.
18 What is identity politics? It should, for example, be obvious at this late date that if there is a ‘‘general’’ United States popular culture it is, if it is anything, ‘‘African,’’ having been infused with the performance styles and musical beats of people of African descent for centuries to the point that these styles are clearly a large part of all performing traditions here. One certainly cannot make a clear delineation between ‘‘African-American’’ culture and ‘‘white American’’ culture. Yet this fact has never led to a moment where taste for a particular, new, cultural artifact was not largely split along racial lines.
Autobiography and Black Identity Politics: Racialization in Twentieth-Century America (Cultural Margins) by Kenneth Mostern