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African American Literature

A guide to library resources about African American Literature

Interesting Texts

These are some examples of books that you may find interesting.  I've included here books that are engaged in cultural criticism, which can provide useful historical context, some works of literary criticism, and some reference works.

If you are looking for additional literary texts, you may want to try some of the anthologies listed on the right of this page.

Literary Criticism

Obviously, I cannot possibly represent the range of literary criticism about African American literature here, but here are a few examples of what books can do in terms of broader analysis (not just focused on a particular author or text, although those books exist too, of course).

Historical Texts/Cultural Context:

To study the ways in which African American literature intersects with history and culture, you might find it useful to search for historical analysis as well as literary analysis. Some search terms include, but are not limited to:

  • African Americans — Race identity.
  • African Americans — Civil rights — History
  • African Americans — Intellectual life — 20th century

Note the call number tendencies:

  • E 185.61 — History of America — Afro Americans
  • PS153.N5 — Ethnic American Literature — African American

Here is a short list of examples of books you might find:


Companions to individual authors

In the reference section we also have a wide array of companions to individual authors, which discuss their works, their themes, critical analysis, and biographical background in depth. Depending on the book, some provide line by line analysis. These works sit in the reference level 3 with call numbers ranging from PS1294.C63 1988 (Kate Chopin Companion) to PS3573.I45677 Z89 2004 (August Wilson). 

Here are a couple examples: