Voodoo, Hoodoo and Conjure in African American Literature

Critical Essays


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About the Book

From the earliest slave narratives to modern fiction by the likes of Colson Whitehead and Jesmyn Ward, African American authors have drawn on African spiritual practices as literary inspiration, and as a way to maintain a connection to Africa. This volume has collected new essays about the multiple ways African American authors have incorporated Voodoo, Hoodoo and Conjure in their work. Among the authors covered are Frederick Douglass, Shirley Graham, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ntozake Shange, Rudolph Fisher, Jean Toomer, and Ishmael Reed.

About the Author(s)

James S. Mellis is an assistant professor of English at Guttman Community College in New York City.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by James S. Mellis

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 189
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6962-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3689-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction (James S. Mellis) 3
Conjure Magic and Supernaturalism in ­Nineteenth-Century African American Narratives (Yvonne Chireau) 15
Rewriting Conjure: Routes of Revision in Frederick Douglass, Shirley Graham and Jewell Parker Rhodes (Carl Plasa) 31
Voodoo’s ­Circum-Atlantic Alternatives in George Washington Cable’s The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life (Joseph Donica) 50
Guiding Myths: Zora Neale Hurston and Her Impact on Hoodoo and Voodoo Scholarship (Jeffrey E. Anderson) 69
Conjuring History in Rudolph Fisher’s The ­Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem (Adrienne Johnson Gosselin) 84
The Hoodoo Hustle: Early ­Twentieth-Century African American Literature, Conjure and the “Con” Game (Camille S. Alexander) 96
Kind of Blue: Race, Religion and the Place of Voodoo in Jean Toomer’s Poetics of Catharsis (Andrés Amitai Wilson) 114
Richard Wright and the Black Supernatural (Adam Nemmers )131
The Mumbo Jumbo Kathedral: HooDoo and Voodoo in the “Work” of Ishmael Reed (Karen Joan Kohoutek) 149
Literary Magic and Spiritual Empowerment in Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls and Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo: A Novel (Tammie Jenkins) 161
About the Contributors 175
Index 177