How African-American Literature Has Changed -- Across the Genres
Slave Narratives and Biographies
African-American Literature and Its Impact on Society
Literature is very important. Many people love to read, and still others love to write. Together, they make a winning combination. Literature is often studied, but one aspect of it has been getting very little attention. African-American literature has often times been ignored, or been only selectively visible. Whether or not African-American literature is influential on society, and whether or not it can be considered important and viable are questions and concerns that need to be answered.
The intent and purpose of this paper is to answer those questions, and others. However, in order to do that, there are several issues that will have to be discussed. Naturally, the importance of African-American literature will be discussed, but one must delve further into the topic in order to come to a true understanding of how influential and important this particular literature is.
In order to do that, one must also look at the implications of African-American literature. There are five areas where it has an impact. Social, economic, environmental, cultural, and historical aspects have all been affected by African-American literature. Whether these areas were affected because African-American literature got in and changed them, or whether they were affected because they were forced to remove themselves from this literature, will also be discussed.
For example, for quite some time in history African-Americans were not considered as important or worthy of anything as Caucasians were. Slavery had a great deal to do with this. Naturally, this affected their ability, not to write literature, but to have it published and treated as serious work. Because of this, many people who would likely have enjoyed reading works of African-American literature were unable to because factors relating to the ethnicity of the author kept the book from getting published, or kept it from appearing in the circles that many of these people moved in.
The changes in African-American literature are also very important. At least two genres will be discussed, one being slaved narratives and biographies and the other being novels, in order to understand how African-American literature has changed. It has not stayed the same over the course of time, and often it has evolved as history has evolved, changing and reshaping itself in order to fit the times that it finds itself in. Occasionally, however, a particular work of African-American literature will simply break away from what society considers as the norm for that time period, and the author will go off on his or her own to write something that he or she feels is vitally important. Some of the more exciting works of African-American literature have come about this way.
In order to examine the change in African-American literature across the genres, several specific authors will be mentioned, as well as a discussion of when they wrote their books, and what type of books they wrote. This will provide a clearer understanding of the changes that have occurred in African-American literature, and will also be easier to point out and discuss then more specific information about the literary styles that belonged to a particular period of history.
Lastly, the conclusion will summarize all of the information listed in the paper in regards to African-American literature. It will reiterate the importance of this literature, as well as reminding the reader of the many areas that have been impacted by it. The changes in this literature will also be briefly reiterated, as that is an extremely important part of the evolution of African-American writing.
African-American literature was very influential, and it should be considered as important and viable in the literary world. More study of it is clearly needed, as many studies of literature deal primarily with Caucasian works, while ignoring the important contributions that have been made by African-American writers, researchers, scientists, and scholars. While many people have been focusing on Caucasian literary works, African-American writers have been continuing to put their thoughts and feelings down on paper for those who were interested in reading them.
The Importance of African-American Literature
As has been said, African-American literature is very important. Its importance lies not only in its literary value, for some of it is wonderful work, but its importance also lies in the contributions that it has made to society. While most of these will be discussed in the following section on implications, some comments about the importance of this literature are necessary here.
African-American literature was important to the people that wrote it, because they were expressing their feelings and beliefs about the conditions they were facing in a primarily Caucasian-run world. While this is not the case with every single piece of African-American literature ever written, many of the books that were written by African-Americans either have this theme running through them, or have it buried under the surface in metaphors that are used throughout the book (Transforming, 33).
This literature was not only important to the African-American people who created it, however, but to others of the same race as well. Many people of the same race related to these books, and they not only realized that they were not the only ones who dealt with the hardships brought onto many of them by Caucasians, but that someone else out there understood what it was like.
This created a feeling of immense relief for many African-Americans, who felt that they were the only ones who understood what it was like to suffer at the hands of the Caucasian people, and now realized that they were mistaken. They felt more understood and appreciated. Even though some of the African-American authors had never been slaves, or had not come from families that had been tied to slavery, many of them had stories of other types of oppression, and others told tales of poverty and degradation (Transforming, 33).
Extreme amounts of emotional turmoil and pain seemed to be part of what kept African-American writers going when times got difficult. The writings of many African-American authors also helped to increase the sense of unity and brotherhood that was felt by the African-American race as a whole, and helped them to realize how they had come such a long way since the days of slavery.
They truly have come along way, when it is looked at from the perspective of years. They have one of many rights and captured many freedoms that they did not have a few short years ago. With luck and support from others, times will continue to improve for African-Americans in the literary field and elsewhere, and equality will be seen as a dream that might possibly become attainable.
African-American literature was also important to many Caucasians. The more African-American literature or that was written, the more people began to take it seriously. While it was still more difficult to have a book published if you were black than if you were white, eventually it was no longer impossible. Many fine authors, and many wonderful works of literature, were created by African-Americans, as shall be examined in the upcoming section on how African-American literature has changed.
African-American literature accomplished one others thing of great importance. It helped to break down some of the barriers between blacks and whites (Blackface, 14). Through a knowledge of history, one will recall that there was a long period of time in which the Caucasian race considered themselves superior. It is true that many still feel this way. However, as times began to change, slavery was abolished, and more African-Americans learned to read and write, the literary scene began to grow.
Now there are many black authors, and quite a few of these have been inspired not only by the works of others that have come before them, but by the history and struggles that their people have endured. While these struggles were harsh and painful at the time, it is suspected that they made for many wonderful novels as African-Americans poured out their thoughts, fears, and dreams into the books that they wrote.
The struggles faced by the authors helped to make the books that they wrote realistic and believable. It was this sense of realism and truth that brought so much to the writings of many of the earlier black authors, and still brings the same qualities to the black authors of today. While the struggles that were faced by African-Americans may have been difficult, they created many wonderful opportunities for talented writers to express their deepest feelings and fears as they related to slavery, oppression, and anything else that the writer felt would be relevant to African-Americans
The early black authors knew what it was like to be a slave, or they knew the stories that their mother or grandmother had told them about slavery. It has not been that long ago that slavery was abolished from this country.…