Form and Content (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
African American literature has a strong tradition of autobiography that has been sustained by such artistic forms as slave narratives and the blues as well as by more Eurocentric examples of the genre. Within that tradition, women’s accounts of their own history are of particular significance and constitute a crucial expression of the African American experience. Their significance derives from the historical status of women, generally considered, and from the relation of this marginalized status to that of women who were already members of a marginalized social group. The emphases, tempo, and content of African American women’s autobiography provide a comprehensive perspective from which typical African American experiences can be reappraised. Black Ice participates fully in, and tacitly articulates a sophisticated awareness of, the role of women’s autobiography in African American cultural self-consciousness, particularly since, as a narrative of education, one of its inevitable themes is the growth and development of a consciousness.
The work opens with a sequence of glimpses from graduation day at St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire, and closes with the recollection of further moments from that graduation weekend. The author is present in her capacity as a member of the school’s board of governors, a status that is implicitly contrasted with Lorene Cary’s initial affiliation with St. Paul’s. It was at this school that she...
(The entire section is 966 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
Alabi, Adetayo. Telling Our Stories: Continuities and Divergences in Black Autobiographies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Important overview of the African American autobiography as a genre. Discusses both the features held in common and the significant diversity among black autobiographical writings.
Braxton, Joanne M. Black Women Writing Autobiography. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. Provides a sense of the tradition to which Black Ice contributes and of that tradition’s cultural and literary importance.
Cary, Lorene. “As Plain as Black and White.” Newsweek 119 (June 29, 1992): 53. Essay on different verbal and tonal emphases in white and African American speech. Provides additional perspective on the linguistic subtext of Black Ice.
Cary, Lorene. “Why It’s Not Just Paranoia: An American History of ’Plans’ for Blacks.” Newsweek 119 (April 6, 1992): 23. Essay on the historical roots of contemporary attitudes toward African Americans, with particular emphasis on the group’s mortality rates and similar areas of neglect. Supplements the conscience-forming experiences detailed in Black Ice.
Golden, Marita, and E. Lynn Harris, eds. Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing. New York: Harlem Moon, 2002....
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