Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paul Laurence Dunbar

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Paul Laurence Dunbar is primarily known as a poet; however, his body of writing is extremely diverse. For instance, over his lifetime Dunbar wrote a dozen books of poetry, four books of short stories, five novels, and a play. Two of his novels, The Fanatics (1901) and The Sport of the Gods (1902) are included in the “100 Novels Collection.”

Dunbar is remembered most for his use of Negro Dialect or African American Vernacular English in his writing.  Geneva Smitherman defines AAVE or Black Dialect as “an Africanized form of English reflecting Black America’s linguistic-cultural African heritage and the conditions of servitude, oppression, and life in America. Black Language is Euro-American speech with Afro-American meaning, nuance, tone, and gestures…It has allowed blacks to create a culture of survival in an alien land, and as a by-product has served to enrich the language of all Americans.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Langston Hughes

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Quite often, Langston Hughes is thought of primarily as a poet. Popular historical appraisals of Hughes tend to focus more on his poetry and do not place as much emphasis on his work as a playwright, novelist, and even newspaper columnist. Huhges's novel Not Without Laughter is apart of the "100 Novels Collection" and mirrors the thematic representations found in his poetry and other works. 

One common theme in his writing, though, is the struggles of working class people. Hughes probes the lives of working class people in his writing to offer glimpses of certain economic, political, and social barriers that confront America’s proletariat. His fascination with leftist political ideologies creeps into his work and exposes his disapproving attitude of the racially charged capitalist culture and his yearning for America to be more encompassing of minorities, especially black people. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Frederick Douglass

[By Kenton Rambsy]

When the name “Frederick Douglass” is uttered, often times, people think of the famous ex- social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. Rarely, though, do people think of Douglass as a fiction writer.

Frederick Douglass serves as an important figure in African American and American history. His contributions to American Literature have provided future generations of scholars an opportunity to study his philosophies about race, equality, and politics in America during the nineteenth century. Although Douglass is one of our most famous ex-slaves primarily because of his autobiography, few people or at least not enough of us recognize the significance of his fictional work The Heroic Slave.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

5 notable NYC Female Characters

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday, I focused on five notable characters that resided in NYC at some point throughout the action of the novel. Today, I have decided to focus on black women characters in five novels from the “100 Novels Collection.” Similar to the male characters, these female characters all face different challenges, but NYC seems to be a recurring setting for the action in the lives of these diverse sets of black men.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

5 Notable NYC Male Characters

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Today, I focused on five novels in the “100 Novels Collection” and identified five memorable characters. These characters all live in NYC or visit the city at some point in the novel. These characters all face different challenges, but NYC seems to be a recurring setting for the action in the lives of these diverse sets of black men.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Character Migrations To NYC

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Today, I have identified three novels that represent characters making migrations to New York City. In the “100 Novels Collection,” many of the characters move to NYC and leave the South behind. Most often, in our collection, male protagonists are making these moves.

The selection of three novels below, offers insight into the particular ways in which black novelists envision NYC and its relation to black life and black art in general. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NYC Novels by decades

[By Kenton Rambsy]

How do we, as readers, envision New York City? How do publishing houses help to create visions of New York City? The publishers tend to use more enticing images and illustrations of brownstones, skyscrapers, and city streets to create impressions of city life. These images play on readers’ sensibilities and contribute to how we think of the novels’ environments and characters.

In our “100 Novels Collection,” it is notable that nearly every decade (except 1910-1919) has a novel that uses New York City as a major setting.  These rendering of New York demonstrate the importance of the city in the literary imaginations of black writers.

Below, I have provided a bibliography, by decade, of novels in the study that take place in NYC.

Monday, February 20, 2012

NYC Novels

[By Kenton Rambsy]

22 novels in the “100 Novels Collection” that take place in New York City or have major scenes in New York. A closer look at these novels and authors and their relationships to each other reveals useful ideas about literary history.

In the 22 novels featured in this exhibit, NYC—most often, Harlem—was a central location for each novel’s storyline. Possibly, the prevalence of urban areas such as New York City as settings for novels indicates that writers view city environments as fertile grounds for positioning their narratives.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Richard Wright

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Following yesterday’s entry on Ralph Ellison, I am concluding this week on Richard Wright as I offer up a few notes on how Wikipedia portrays his biographical page. On last week, I examined how his novel Native Son—a novel in the “100 Novels Collection”—was presented on Wikipedia to multiple internet users.

Since Wikipedia comes up first when searching names on Google and other search engines, I found it necessary to examine these representations. I encourage those reading to pay attention to the Wikipedia developments so we can more readily assess how the site is influencing larger impressions of African American writers and their work.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ralph Ellison

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Following yesterday’s post about Toni Morrison. Today, I focused on Ralph Ellison, another author in the “100 Novels Collection” Similar to my examining his novel’s Wikipedia page on last week, Ellison’s personal page provided interesting discoveries as well.

Ellison is known most for his novel Invisible Man published in 1952. However, an examination of his Wikipedia page revealed that the first chapter of the novel, “Battle Royal,” actually was a short story at first.

A closer look at the Wikipedia pages of black authors and their works lends insight into how African American literature is framed to broad internet audiences. Perhaps, more attention should be placed on Wikipedia and how it shapes impressions of black writing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Toni Morrison

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday’s post on Zora Neale Hurston provided me with valuable information on how Wikipedia presents her to internet users.

Today, I decided to concentrate on Toni Morrison. Last week, I did on post informing readers of what I learned about Morrison’s novel Beloved. Today, I focus solely on her author page on Wikipedia. Many novels and authors in the “100 Novels Collection” have extensively developed pages that reveal a wide range of information. I think attention to these factors are key to better understand how black writers and novels are presented on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Zora Neale Hurston

[By Kenton Rambsy]

On yesterday, I posted on “What Wikipedia has Taught me about Alice Walker.” As a author in the “100 Novels Collection,” I composed an entry on her describing what I have learned about Walker from Wikipedia. One fact I learned was that Walker’s 1975 article “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston” revived interest in Hurston’s work which had seemingly fallen into obscurity.  

Quite naturally, today I extend the discussions of what Wikipedia has taught me about novelist by focusing on Zora Neale Hurston. Last week, I provided a post on what Wikipedia taught me about her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Today, I continue my exploration and look at the biographies that Wikipedia provides of Hurston’s life.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alice Walker

[By Kenton Rambsy]

On last week, I focused on select novels in the “100 Novels Collection” to discuss how Wikipedia showcased the books to internet reading audiences. Extending my conversations about Wikipedia, this week I chose to focus on the novelist to better understand what key biographical information readers may gain from the website.

Moreover, I was interested in examining how Wikipedia may present the author’s page in concert with his or her work to also influence the ways in which internet audiences interpret African American literature.

Today, I chose to start by analyzing Alice Walker and compare her Wikipedia biographical page to her novel page The Color Purple

Friday, February 10, 2012

Native Son

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Today, I round out my “What Wikipedia has taught me about African American Novels” week by ending with Richard Wright’s Native Son. Over the course of the week, I have picked five novels in the “100 Novels Collection” to analyze and better understand how Wikipedia frames African American novels and presents information to larger audiences.

As internet users, we should pay more attention to Wikipedia to better understand its influence on black writing. Like it or not, Wikipedia is a source that internet users draw on frequently for information. More attention to the particular trends, graphics, and sources drawn on to categorize black writing will provide us with a better understanding of how the site influences popular culture and African American literature in general.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Invisible Man

[By Kenton Rambsy]

On yesterday, I posted on what I learned about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Most of the novels in the “100 Novels Collection” have Wikipedia pages. The level of content development varies, though.

Today, I continue the series by focusing on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. My intent with these posts is to better understand the influence Wikipedia has on African American novels and authors.

Life on the Horizon: Reoccurring Themes in African-American Literature

[By Goyland Williams]

As I stated in a previous blog post, studying trends in the “100 Novels Collection” reveals useful ways for understanding African-American literature. Looking at prominent characters in Jean Toomer’s Cane, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, reveals some glaring similarities that are frequently present in African-American literature.       

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


[By Kenton Rambsy]

On yesterday, I provided a post on what Wikipedia has taught me about Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Wikipedia, since its launch, has been the source of much controversy regarding the accuracy of its information with some parties supporting the site and others parties criticizing it greatly.

Today, I continue my exploration of “What I learned from Wikipedia” by exploring Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. Wikipedia serves an important function as it shapes reading audiences impressions of black novelists in our “100 Novels Collection” and larger concepts of African American literature in general.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Their Eyes Were Watching God

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday, I posted on what I have learned from Wikipedia about Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Over the past few years, numerous studies have been performed that examine validity of Wikipedia as a legitimate source.

My intentions of these posts is involves more than the credibility of the site, but instead, I am wondering how Wikipedia shapes the impressions of black writing. Today, I have chosen to write about my findings from Wikipedia on Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Since many people access the free Encyclopedia, my interest in Wikipedia stems from a yearning to understand how the site presents black writers and their novels (especially those in our "100 Novels Collection") to larger reading audiences.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Great Secret: “Passing” in African-American Literature

[By Goyland Williams]

A common trope in African-American literature is “passing”—black characters light-skinned enough to pass for white. Given the long history of white supremacy and racial discrimination in the United States, blacks who were afforded the privilege by virtue of their mixed-race heritage, sometimes employed this practice as a right of power and privilege.

Looking at the database of the “100 novels project”, I will explore a few works that address this dominant trope in African American literature. Such an analysis resists the temptation to avoid such a complicated history, a present reality, and more importantly, the complexity of the human condition.

The Color Purple

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Over the past ten years, Wikipedia has become a major source for how internet users access information on various subjects. Some people question the legitimacy of Wikipedia when comparing the site to more academic sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica. There have even been numerous studies that have examined the credibility of the site. These studies are evidence that for years to come, Wikipedia will certainly be a force to reckon with in terms of scholarship.

In coming years, we must also ask questions such as to what extent does Wikipedia influence on African American literature. Over the next week, I will identify five novels from the “100 Novels Collection” that have extensively developed Wikipedia pages. Today, I will report on what I have learned about Alice Walker’s  The Color Purple from Wikipedia so that we may soon understand how Wikipedia plays a role in shaping/molding larger audiences impressions of black writing.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Edward P. Jones and Short Stories

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Over the past week, I have focused on novelist in the “100Novels Collection” to highlight how, often times, novels take precedence over collections of short stories in shaping the legacy of writers.

Similar to Toni Cade Bambara, Edward P. Jones is known primarily as a short story writer and has even expressed a preference for the short story form. Ironically enough, though, he won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his sole novel, The Known World. This occurrence leads me to wonder why novels are favored more than short stories? Moreover, I wonder do publishers produce disincentives for writers who favor short stories over novels? Exploring these questions may shed light into the political world of publishing companies and to what ends do they promote novels over collections of short stories.

Below, view a list of short stories by Edward P. Jones.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Toni Cade Bambara and Short Stories

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday, I reminded readers that even though Richard Wright is often times remembered for his novel Native Son, his short stories were very important to launching his literary career. Today, I continue my exploration of writers in the “100 Novels Collection” who are also short story writers, focusing on Toni Cade Bambara.

Her first collection of short stories, Gorilla, My Love, helped to compliment her involvement in the emerging black feminist movement. The majority of the short stories in her first collection are told from the first person point of view of a sassy black female girl. This is significant since it offers an opportunity for readers to interpret the coming of age experiences of young black girls. Below, take a look at some of Bambara’s short stories. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Richard Wright and Short Stories

[By Kenton Rambsy]
Yesterday, I  provided a complete list of short stories by Zora Neale Hurston as a means of exploring how well known novelists in the 100 Novels Collection such as Hurston and Charles Chesnutt actually wrote in other genres.

Today, I am providing a list of short stories written by Richard  Wright. Even though, Wright’s Native Son helped to catapult Wright to national prominence of being a best-seller, selling over 250, 000 copies in the first three weeks, his collection of short stories “Uncle Tom’s Children” afforded him the finances to move to Harlem and begin writing his novel. In addition, Wright received a Guggenheim Fellowship from the same collection. Wright’s work as a short story writer is certainly significant as to how we understand his larger legacy.