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Freedom Time

The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing

Anthony Reed

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Experimental poetry and prose by black writers rejects traditional interpretations of social protest and identity formation to reveal radical new ways of perceiving the world.

Winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Prize of the Modern Language Association

Standard literary criticism tends to either ignore or downplay the unorthodox tradition of black experimental writing that emerged in the wake of protests against colonization and Jim Crow–era segregation. Histories of African American literature likewise have a hard time accounting for the distinctiveness of experimental writing, which is\u2026

Experimental poetry and prose by black writers rejects traditional interpretations of social protest and identity formation to reveal radical new ways of perceiving the world.

Winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Prize of the Modern Language Association

Standard literary criticism tends to either ignore or downplay the unorthodox tradition of black experimental writing that emerged in the wake of protests against colonization and Jim Crow–era segregation. Histories of African American literature likewise have a hard time accounting for the distinctiveness of experimental writing, which is part of a general shift in emphasis among black writers away from appeals for social recognition or raising consciousness. In Freedom Time, Anthony Reed offers a theoretical reading of "black experimental writing" that presents the term both as a profound literary development and as a concept for analyzing how writing challenges us to rethink the relationships between race and literary techniques.

Through extended analyses of works by African American and Afro-Caribbean writers—including N. H. Pritchard, Suzan-Lori Parks, NourbeSe Philip, Kamau Brathwaite, Claudia Rankine, Douglas Kearney, Harryette Mullen, and Nathaniel Mackey—Reed develops a new sense of the literary politics of formally innovative writing and the connections between literature and politics since the 1960s.

Freedom Time reclaims the power of experimental black voices by arguing that readers and critics must see them as more than a mere reflection of the politics of social protest and identity formation. With an approach informed by literary, cultural, African American, and feminist studies, Reed shows how reworking literary materials and conventions liberates writers to push the limits of representation and expression.

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Reviews

Reed provides a strong context in which to examine these highly complex writers and their techniques, adding insight into writers who are undervalued (in the case of Mullen and Philip) and/or lesser known (Pritchard and Kearney).

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
280
ISBN
9781421421209
Illustration Description
17 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part 1
1. Broken Witness
2. Establishing Synchronisms
3. Between Now and Yet
Part 2
4. Sing It in My Voice
5. Exploding Dimensions of Song
Postscript
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Anthony Reed, Ph.D.

Anthony Reed is an associate professor of English and African American Studies at Yale University.