Bernard W. Bell (essay date 1977)
SOURCE: “African-American Writers,” in American Literature 1764-1789: The Revolutionary Years, edited by Everett Emerson, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1977, pp. 171-93.
[In the following essay, Bell discusses the careers of ex-slaves Jupiter Hammon, Phillis Wheatley, and Olaudah Equiano, which he claims demonstrate how a hostile white literate society fostered the “twoness” of early black identity in the United States.]
Because of the distinctive history and acculturation of Africans in the English colonies during the revolutionary period, their literary gifts are most meaningfully assessed when viewed in the context of the tension between...
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