Elizabeth McHenry F'18

Elizabeth  McHenry
Associate Professor
English
New York University

ACLS Fellowship Program 2018
Associate Professor
English
New York University
Making Negro Literature: Writing, Literary Practice, and African American Authorship, 1896-1910

The interval from 1896 to 1910 has largely been neglected by African American literary scholarship, creating the false sense that it was unremarkable. “Making Negro Literature” grapples with this largely unmapped moment in African American literary history by considering a series of genres, institutions, personalities, and conditions of authorship and publication that offer insight into the period’s distinctive situations of literary engagement for African Americans. These situations—some successful, but others failed or only partially achieved—offer a crucial lens through which to capture the unsettledness of the category of black literature at the beginning of the twentieth century, even in the minds of those working in the field. By turning its attention to a broad, alternative archive of literary productivity, the study animates the questions that motivated the period’s literary projects and practitioners, at the very moment when a modern understanding of African American literature was taking shape.