Between the Lines: Literary Transnationalism and African American Poetics

ISBN : 9780199743063

Monique-Adelle Callahan
208 Pages
167 x 233 mm
Pub date
May 2011
Imagining the Americas
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Between the Lines examines the role of women poets of African descent in shaping the history of the Americas. Focusing on three women whose poetry wrestled with the sociopolitical predicaments of the late nineteenth century, Between the Lines ventures a broader definition of African American literature by placing it in a hemispheric context. These poets wrote about slavery and its impact on conceptions of free people and free nations; about an existential struggle against boundaries informed by race, nation, and gender; about the power of words to correct, compose, and constitute identities. For these writers, the poem was a dynamic space where the history of slavery met a need for new concepts of individual and collective freedoms. In their work we encounter the poem as a site of cross-cultural exchange, a literary space in which the boundaries of nation can be re-imagined. Between the Lines situates national poetics in a global economy of identities, histories and languages. It looks to poetry to more fully demonstrate how we use language to conceptualize history, how we daily translate from one cultural or linguistic arena to another, how we constantly write identity into existence through a poetic use of language. Sometimes language fails. Inevitably it traps us in the very boundaries that we try to escape. Between the Lines traces this cycle as it informs the poetry of the Americas as it draws and erases national and transnational lines.


Introduction: What is Between the Lines(?)
1. Translations of Transnational Black Icons in the Poetics of Frances Harper
2. Signs of Blood: Redemption Songs and American Poetry Beyond Borders
3. Write the Vision: Gender and Nation Beyond Emancipation
4. Prison Breaks: Modes of Escape in Auta de Souza's Poetics of Freedom
Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here?: the Implications of Textual Migrations
Epilogue: Afrodescendente History as/and Transnational Poetics

About the author: 

Monique-Adelle Callahan is a lecturer in the Comparative Literature Department at Harvard University.

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