Ever since the eighteenth century, this literature has consistently incorporated forms ranging from orature, the written word, and song, to dance, jazz, and film, effectively demonstrating its versatility as a medium of African American cultural expression. The literature has constantly documented the struggles of African Americans with race and (anti-black) racism, African heritage and Euro-American influence, slavery and freedom, constitutional enfranchisement and educational progress, political agency and social assimilation, as well as the specters of history and modernity. Finally, African Americans have also regularly wrestled with the critical and commercial expectations that guided, compromised, or contradicted their own agendas as creative writers or as proclaimed agents of social change. On the other hand, the essays in this collection also interrogate why these formal, thematic, and commercial patterns have come to determine what we consider to be the best or most emblematic texts of African American literary history.
From: Companion to African American Literature, edited by Gene Andrew Jarrett, Wiley, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bayloru/detail.action?docID=487737.