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Who Writes for Black Children?

African American Children’s Literature before 1900

2017

Katharine Capshaw and Anna Mae Duane, Editors

Who Writes for Black Children?

Innovative essays that challenge us to imagine African American children’s literature during the slavery and reconstruction eras

Who Writes for Black Children? unlocks a rich archive of largely overlooked literature read by black children. From poetry written by a slave for a plantation school to joyful “death biographies” of African Americans in the antebellum North to literature penned by African American children themselves, this volume presents compelling new definitions of both African American literature and children’s literature.

Until recently, scholars believed that African American children’s literature did not exist before 1900. Now, Who Writes for Black Children? opens the door to a rich archive of largely overlooked literature read by black children. This volume’s combination of analytic essays, bibliographic materials, and primary texts offers alternative histories for early African American literary studies and children’s literature studies.

From poetry written by a slave for a plantation school to joyful “death biographies” of African Americans in the antebellum North to literature penned by African American children themselves, Who Writes for Black Children? presents compelling new definitions of both African American literature and children’s literature. Editors Katharine Capshaw and Anna Mae Duane bring together a rich collection of essays that argue for children as an integral part of the nineteenth-century black community and offer alternative ways to look at the relationship between children and adults.

Including two bibliographic essays that provide a list of texts for future research as well as an extensive selection of hard-to-find primary texts, Who Writes for Black Children? broadens our ideas of authorship, originality, identity, and political formations. In the process, the volume adds new texts to the canon of African American literature while providing a fresh perspective on our desire for the literary origin stories that create canons in the first place.

Contributors: Karen Chandler, U of Louisville; Martha J. Cutter, U of Connecticut; LuElla D’Amico, Whitworth U; Brigitte Fielder, U of Wisconsin–Madison; Eric Gardner, Saginaw Valley State U; Mary Niall Mitchell, U of New Orleans; Angela Sorby, Marquette U; Ivy Linton Stabell, Iona College; Valentina K. Tikoff, DePaul U; Laura Wasowicz; Courtney Weikle-Mills, U of Pittsburgh; Nazera Sadiq Wright, U of Kentucky.

Who Writes for Black Children?

Katharine Capshaw is professor of English at the University of Connecticut and the author of Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (Minnesota, 2014) and Children’s Literature of the Harlem Renaissance.

Anna Mae Duane is associate professor of English at the University of Connecticut and coeditor of the journal Common-place. She is the author of Suffering Childhood in Early America: Violence, Race, and the Making of the Child Victim.

Who Writes for Black Children?

Contents
Introduction: The Radical Work of Reading Black Children in the Era of Slavery and Reconstruction
Anna Mae Duane and Katharine Capshaw
Part I. Locating Readers
1. Conjuring Readers: Antebellum African American Children’s Poetry
Angela Sorby
2. Free the Children: Jupiter Hammon and the Origin of African American Children’s Literature
Courtney Weikle-Mills
3. “Ye Are Builders”: Child Readers in Frances Harper’s Vision of an Inclusive Black Poetry
Karen Chandler
Part II. Schooling, Textuality, and Literacies
4. Madame Couvent’s Legacy: Free Children of Color as Historians in Antebellum New Orleans
Mary Niall Mitchell
5. Innocence in Ann Plato’s and Susan Paul’s Black Children’s Biographies
Ivy Linton Stabell
6. A Role Model for African American Children: Abigail Field Mott’s Life and Adventures of Olaudah Equiano and White Northern Abolitionism
Valentina K. Tikoff
7. The Child’s Illustrated Antislavery Talking Book: Abigail Field Mott’s Abridgment of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative for African American Children
Martha J. Cutter
Part III. Defining African American Children’s Literature: Critical Crossovers
8. “Our Hope Is in the Rising Generation”: Locating African American Children’s Literature in the Children’s Department of the Colored American
Nazera Sadiq Wright
9. “No Rights That Any Body Is Bound to Respect”: Pets, Race, and African American Child Readers
Brigitte Fielder
10. Finding God’s Way: Amelia E. Johnson’s Clarence and Corrine as a Path to Religious Resistance for African American Children
LuElla D’Amico
Part IV. Bibliographic Essays
11. Nuggets from the Field: The Roots of African American Children’s Literature, 1780–1866
Laura Wasowicz
12. Children’s Literature in the Christian Recorder: An Initial Comparative Biobibliography for May 1862 and April 1873
Eric Gardner
Part V. A Collection of African American Children’s Literature before 1900
The Life and Adventures of Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Abridged by Abigail Field Mott
Selected Poems
Jupiter Hammon
Only Once
Selected Essays and Poems
Ann Plato
William Saunders; or, Blessings in Disguise
The Ten Commandments
Lucy Skipwith
Dogs and Cats
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Selected Poems
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Excerpts from “Fancy Etchings”
F[rances]. E[llen]. W[atkins]. Harper
Lines Dedicated to the Memory of Hattie M. Mowbray
D. M. Hilgrove
A Story for the Little Folks: The Tiger
The Mournful Lute; or, The Preceptor’s Farewell
Daniel Alexander Payne
Excerpt from Clarence and Corinne; or, God’s Way
A[melia]. E. Johnson
My Childhood’s Happy Days
Daniel Webster Davis
Lines Addressed to a Wreath of Flowers, Designed as a Present for Mary Ann
E. Webb
Acknowledgments
Contributors
Index