Origins of the African American Jeremiad

The Rhetorical Strategies of Social Protest and Activism, 1760–1861

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About the Book

In the moralistic texts of jeremiadic discourse, authors lament the condition of society, utilizing prophecy as a means of predicting its demise. This study delves beneath the socio-religious and cultural exterior of the American jeremiadic tradition to unveil the complexities of African American jeremiadic rhetoric in antebellum America. It examines the development of the tradition in response to slavery, explores its contributions to the antebellum social protest writings of African Americans, and evaluates the role of the jeremiad in the growth of an African American literary genre. Despite its situation within an unreceptive environment, the African American jeremiad maintained its power, continuing to influence contemporary African American literary and cultural traditions.

About the Author(s)

Willie J. Harrell, Jr., is an associate professor of English at Kent State University.

Bibliographic Details

Willie J. Harrell, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6689-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8831-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction: Mapping the African American Jeremiad      5

1. The Great Tradition of Black Protest: Characteristics of the African American Jeremiad      13

2. Early Development      36

3. The African American Jeremiad, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence      60

4. Black Nationalism in the Early Republic      73

5. Black Women Jeremiahs      93

6. The Age of Abolitionism      115

7. The Transatlantic African American Jeremiad      160

8. The Black Canadian Jeremiad      177

Conclusion: The Great Tradition of Black Protest Continues      196

Chapter Notes      199

Works Cited      207

Index      227