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The Black Box by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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The Black Box

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The Black Box by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Hardcover $30.00
Mar 19, 2024 | ISBN 9780593299784

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    427 Minutes

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“The allure of this book, and the reason for its existence, are the narrative links he draws among these people and events, and his insistence that a survey of African American history is incomplete without a special consideration of how writing has undergirded and powered it. This is a literary history of Black America, but it is also an argument that African American history is inextricable from the history of African American literature.” —Tope Folarin, The New York Times

“These reflections are elegant entrees into the debates that Black Americans have conducted in their long quest for self-definition. The Black Box succeeds not because it contains novel facts but because Gates’s gloss on the established history glimmers. He proposes that it is by narrating and naming—that is, by writing—that Black Americans have shattered the narrow boxes in which they have so often been imprisoned. By writing about this writing, he, too, pens his way free.” —Becca Rothfeld, The Washington Post

“An absolute tour de force . . . A study in the art, intellect, and inherent contradictions that define the making of a people.” Elle

“Gates tracks questions of class, language, aesthetics, and resistance in a manyfaceted, clarifying, era-by-era chronicle propelled by vivid considerations of such influential Black writers as Phillis Wheatley, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Toni Morrison . . . A call to protect the free exchange of ideas in the classroom and beyond.” Booklist (starred review)

“A must for scholars, yet still accessible to general audiences, by arguably the preeminent scholar of African American studies. This gem brilliantly reflects multiple depictions of what it means to be a Black American amid complex, structured interracial and color-based discrimination discourses, in which writing and language are keys.” Library Journal (starred review)

“Henry Louis Gates is a national treasure. Here, he returns with an intellectual and at times deeply personal meditation on the hard-fought evolution and the very meaning of African American identity, calling upon our country to transcend its manufactured divisions.” —Isabel Wilkerson, New York Times bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Table Of Contents

PREFACE. The Black Box xiii
THREE. WHO’S YOUR DADDY?: Frederick Douglass and the Politics of Self-Representation 79
FOUR. WHO’S YOUR MAMA?: The Politics of Disrespectability 101
FIVE. THE “TRUE ART OF A RACE’S PAST”: Art, Propaganda, and the New Negro 130
SIX. MODERNISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS: Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright Play the Dozens 163
SEVEN. SELLOUTS VS. RACE MEN: On the Concept of Passing 185
CONCLUSION. Policing the Color Line 213
Acknowledgments 229
Notes 233
Index 253

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