Within the Circle
is the first anthology to present the entire spectrum of twentieth-century African American literary and cultural criticism. It begins with the Harlem Renaissance, continues through civil rights, the Black Arts Movement, and on into contemporary debates of poststructuralist and black feminist theory. Drawing on a quote from Frederick Douglass for the title of this book, Angelyn Mitchell explains in her introduction the importance for those "within the circle" of African American literature to examine their own works and to engage this critical canon.
The essays in this collection—many of which are not widely available today—either initiated or gave critical definition to specific periods or movements of African American literature. They address issues such as integration, separatism, political action, black nationalism, Afrocentricity, black feminism, as well as the role of art, the artist, the critic, and the audience. With selections from Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, W. E. B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Barbara Smith, Alice Walker, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and many others, this definitive collection provides a dynamic model of the cultural, ideological, historical, and aesthetic considerations in African American literature and literary criticism.
A major contribution to the study of African American literature, this volume will serve as a foundation for future work by students and scholars. Its importance will be recognized by all those interested in modern literary theory as well as general readers concerned with the African American experience.
Selections by (partial list): Houston A. Baker, Jr., James Baldwin, Sterling Brown, Barbara Christian, W. E. B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, LeRoi Jones, Sarah Webster Fabio, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W. Lawrence Hogue, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Alain Locke, Deborah E. McDowell, Toni Morrison, J. Saunders Redding, George Schuyler, Barbara Smith, Valerie Smith, Hortense J. Spillers, Robert B. Stepto, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, Mary Helen Washington, Richard Wright