Literary Expressions of African Spirituality

Literary Expressions of African Spirituality

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With a focus on the connected spiritual legacy of the black Atlantic, Literary Expressions of African Spirituality leads the way to more comprehensive trans-geographical studies of African spirituality in black art. With essays focusing on African spirituality in creative works by several trans-Atlantic black authors across varying locations in the Ameri-Atlantic diaspora, this collection reveals and examines their shared spiritual cosmology. Diasporic in scope, Literary Expressions of African Spirituality offers new readings of black literatures through the prism of spiritual memory that survived the damaging impact of trans-Atlantic slaving. This memory is a significant thread that has often been missed in the reading and teaching of the literatures of the African diaspora. Essays in this collection explore unique black angles of seeing and ways of knowing that characterize African spiritual presence and influence in trans-Atlantic black artistic productions. Essays exploring works ranging from turn-of-the-century African American figure W.E.B. DuBois, South African novelist Zakes Mda, Haitian novelists Edwidge Danticat and Jacques Roumain, as well as African belief systems such as Voudoun and Candomble, provide a scope not yet offered in a single published volume. This collection explores the deep and often unconscious spiritual and psychosocial connectedness of people of African descent in the African and Ameri-Atlantic world.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 385.55g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739181424
  • 9780739181423

Review quote

The 11 essays in this collection explore ways in which indigenous African faith systems inform--and are treated in--black Atlantic literature and film. Most contributors deal with African American and Anglophone black Caribbean texts, so the title is overbroad, and the ambition of editors Marsh-Lockett and West (both Georgia State Univ.) to rethink "critical approaches to African works and their counterparts across the Atlantic" is a little too grand, but there are noteworthy essays here. The leadoff, for instance, by John Hawley--one of only two focusing on African literature--is a concise overview of novelistic engagement with indigenous spiritualities, Islam, and Christianity, referencing dozens of examples from around the continent. Kameelah Martin contributes an informative survey on conjure women in African American novels and films. In a different vein, Artress Bethany White's and Beauty Bragg's essays employ postcolonial, diasporist, feminist, and religious studies discourses in their thoughtful literary critiques of, respectively, Maryse Conde and Toni Morrison, and Edwidge Danticat. Melvin Rahming offers a fascinating "Egyptian/Kametic" reading of a too-little-known collection of short stories, Voodoomation, by Garfield Linton, but it is marred by shoddy proofreading--the title of the book is variously misspelled throughout. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. CHOICE Literary Expressions of African Spirituality is a brilliant collection of well written and well-connected essays, a welcome addition to the tiny corpus of critical texts that examine African and African Diaspora spiritualities as reading paradigms of African and African Diaspora literatures...[T]he theoretical postulates provide new ways of responding to African and African Diaspora Literatures. This is a great and welcome addition to African and African Diaspora literary studies. Caribbean Studies The authors manage an impressive collective of spiritual literary history with literature reviews and bibliographies that cover a thorough cross section from related disciplines. The novel is the most consistent genre contributors analyze in the essays, followed by film, and the short story. The selections are regionally balanced, and editors admit its deliberate confinement to African, Caribbean, and African American worldviews with a hint of a future volume that would address the spiritual phenomenon in Afro-European, South American, and Canadian writing...The volume is landmark because it summons our thinking toward myriad possibilities for framing the global African cultural pursuit of things spiritual through a multidimensional layering of comparative epistemology, philosophy, and religious practice that expand literary and artistic genres' interdisciplinary effect. The collection features applications of not only spirituality but also cosmology, healing, transformation, restoration, and a much-needed interventional that reiterates the value of ritual and ceremony in the collective syncretism of African-based resilience and adaptation that responded to the effects of psychological and physical trauma and grief that beset African communities through enslavement, colonialism, and beyond. Represented well by Kameelah L. Martin's essay on affirming the conjure woman as a prototype with early twentieth-century stability and post-1981 innovation, the volume's contribution to literary historiography is valuable. The collection will stimulate debate and discussion on antithetical topics of atheism and pessimism that are also woven into contemporary African world points of view. African Studies Quarterly Exploring the intersection of spirituality and aesthetics in literary texts by African and African-descended writers on the continent and in the Americas, Literary Expressions of African Spirituality offers a new conceptual framework for understanding African and diasporic agency and originality. The essays in this collection challenge, expand, and elaborate on previous conceptions of art, identity, and the African spiritual cosmos. -- Alma Jean Billingslea, professor, Department of English, Spelman College The editors of Literary Expressions of African Spirituality have created a volume that is essential reading for serious scholars of African American literature and culture because its chapters genuinely enhance what we know about African influences on African American cultural production. This work contributes to interdisciplinary approaches to African American literature. In addition, scholars and students of Africana, Black Diaspora, and Black Transnational Studies, as well as students and scholars of Literary and Cultural Studies, generally, will find it highly relevant. The co-editors' introduction is brilliantly conceived and executed- perfectly setting up the illuminating contributions that follow. I highly recommend it. -- Lovalerie King, director, Africana Research Center, Pennsylvania State University Marsh-Lockett and West have assembled an impressive collection of critical essays in Literary Expressions of African Spirituality. These essays serve to illuminate a literary area that has too oft been relegated to the shadows of scholarly attention due to the complexity of spiritual memory emanating from members of the diaspora. In a well-wrought introduction and 11 additional chapters, Marsh-Lockett and West provide an open window of scholarly demystification of African Spirituality. -- Emily Allen-Williams, The University of the Virgin Islandsshow more

About Carol P. Marsh-Lockett

Carol P. Marsh-Lockett is an associate professor of English at Georgia State University, where she teaches courses and pursues scholarship in African American, Caribbean, and Postcolonial Literatures. In addition to published essays and articles in these areas as well as articles on Seventeenth Century English Literature, she is the editor of Decolonising Caribbean Literature (Studies in the Literary Imagination 26.2) and Black Women Playwrights: Visions on the American Stage (Garland, 1999). She also co-edited (with Elizabeth J. West) Caribbean Women Writers in Exile: Anglophone Writings (Studies in the Literary Imagination 37.2). She is a former Womanist Scholar in Residence at The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Elizabeth J. West received her PhD in English with a certificate in Women's Studies from Emory University. In her anthologized essays, as well as articles in American Studies Journal (Halle-Wittenberg, Germany), CLAJ, MELUS, JCCH, Womanist, Black Magnolias, SLI, and SCR, she focuses on gender, race and class, with particular interest in their intersections with the spiritual in early American and African American literary works. Her monograph, African Spirituality in Black Women's Fiction (Lexington Books, 2011) traces specific African spiritual sensibilities from early to modern black women's writings. She is among scholar interviewees for Georgia Public Broadcasting's 2011 documentary on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. Her article, "From David Walker to President Obama: Tropes of the Founding Fathers in African American Discourses of Democracy, or the Legacy of Ishmael," has been recognized among "Featured Articles in American Studies" (American Studies Journals: A Directory of Worldwide Resources). She is a former AAUW Research Fellow and a ROOTS NEH Summer Seminar Participant (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and University of Virginia). She has served as a Special Delegate for the Modern Language Association, and she is currently Assistant Treasurer for the College Language Association.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction: African Spirituality and the Ameri-Atlantic World Carol Marsh-Lockett and Elizabeth J. West Section 1: Imagining African Faith Systems in the Postmodern World Chapter 2: The Gods Who Speak in Many Voices, and in None: African Novelists on Indigenous and Colonial Religion John C. Hawley Chapter 3: Reading Spirit: Cosmological Considerations in Garfield Linton's Voodoomation: A Book of Foretelling Melvin Rahming Chapter 4: From "Pythian Madness" to an "Inner Ethic of Self-Sacrifice": The Spirits of Africa and Modernity in Du Bois's Late Writings James Manigault-Bryant Chapter 5: Rituals of Remembrance: Trauma, Memory, and Spiritual Practice in Zakes Mda's The Heart of Redness Erica L. Still Section 2: Integrations of the African and the Western in New World Black Atlantic Writing Chapter 6: The Body of Vodou: Corporeality and the Location of Gender in Afro-Diasporic Religion Roberto Strongman Chapter 7: Hoodoo Ladies and High Conjurers: New Directions for an Old Archetype Kameelah Martin Chapter 8: From Africa to America by Way of the Caribbean: Fictionalized Histories of the Diasporic Slave Woman's Presence in America Artress Bethany White Section 3: African Deities and Divinations as Forces in New World Black Works Chapter 9: Expressions of African-Based Spirituality in Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory Beauty Bragg Chapter 10: Waiting for Olodumare: Ishmael Reed and the Recovery of Yoruba" Darryl Dickson-Carr Chapter 11: Testing and Changing: Esu and Oya 'Making it Do What it Do' in The Best Man Georgene Bess Montgomery Chapter 12: Cuban Utopianism and Haitian Messiah: Spiritual Provocations of Collective Catalyst in Jacques Roumain's Masters of the Dew Mario Chandlershow more