In the midst of this creative fervor, I decided to publish a collection of essays on Afro-Hispanic literature by noted scholars because, in the mid-seventies, the academic discipline of Afro-Hispanic Studies was not recognized and the Black presence in Hispanic letters was virtually invisible. Johnson and the other by Richard L. Jackson , both of which dealt primarily with the cult of whiteness in the works of mainstream European and Spanish American writers.
It was significant, therefore, that Blacks in Hispanic Literature was published in — following, as it did, the advent of Black Studies programs in the United States — because this foundational text laid the groundwork for important critical studies that followed. Furthermore, it was a collaborative work that brought together the essays of researchers and creative writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America; and such collaboration became a hallmark of later journals, conferences, and edited collections. With the inclusion of essays by Carter G.
Woodson , Valaurez B. Spratlin , and John F. Matthews — pioneers of African and African American history and literature — it provided an historical context for understanding the emergence and later development of Afro-Hispanic literary studies. The work of these early scholars demonstrated clearly that Diasporan Spanish American literature was rooted in the oral literatures of Africa and the literary texts of Spain. The book was reviewed in prestigious journals, such as Research in African Literature and the Journal of Spanish Studies, in which it was cited as one of "two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature" that appeared in the late s.
Scholars in the field have indicated that Blacks in Hispanic Literature is still relevant; in a article, published in the Journal of Dagarre Studies , one noted that the collection "provides a valuable historical review for the medieval and Golden Age periods," and in , another called it "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature. In the three decades since the publication of Blacks in Hispanic Literature , the field of Afro-Hispanic literary studies has been enriched by the research of noted critics; proliferation of artistic works by Black Hispanophone writers; publication of three important journals; application of new critical methodologies for interpreting the literature; and studies that focus on single countries and individual writers.
Two of the seminal figures in the development of the field have been Richard L. Jackson , one of the first scholars to identify writers, trace themes, develop bibliographies, and establish a canon; and Marvin A. Lewis , whose work as a professor, mentor, administrator, conference organizer, editor of two journals, and author of five books has left an indelible stamp on Afro-Hispanism. Founded in by Ian I. Smart , Henry J. Richards, and the late Stanley A. Cyrus , who served as editor, it was first located in Washington, DC. Initially, it was founded as a part of the Afro-Hispanic Institute — an academic press designed to publish books and a journal.
The Review fostered scholarship on well known writers and also focused attention on less familiar writers such as Colombians Arnoldo Palacios and Carlos Arturo Truque. In , when it became an official publication of the University of Missouri-Columbia under the editorship of Marvin A. Lewis and Edward Mullen , the Afro-Hispanic Review was acknowledged as the primary academic forum for research in the literature and culture of Spanish-speaking people of African ancestry.
When the Afro-Hispanic Review was transferred to Vanderbilt University in , the new editor, William Luis , wrote that it was "the oldest and most distinguished journal to consider the African Diaspora experience in the Hispanic World. Two other journals have shaped the development of Afro-Hispanic literature and literary criticism. Lewis and Laurence E.
Founded as a multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary journal that publishes research on the Diaspora, it was published by the Afro-Romance Institute of the University of Missouri-Columbia and includes articles, reviews, creative works, and papers from its conferences throughout the Americas. In , the journal was relocated to Purdue University, where it is now edited by Antonio Tillis.
During the s, Lewis hosted several international research conferences at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The energy, enthusiasm, camaraderie, and intellectual stimulation that we felt at these conferences were immeasurable. In fact, I conceived the idea for a book on Black Hispanophone women writers — published in — at the gathering.
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Although most early scholars of Afro-Hispanic literature were shaped, intellectually, by Black aesthetic precepts — and that is apparent in my introduction to Blacks in Hispanic Literature — we developed, in the course of three decades, various methods, notably text-specific methods, of interpreting literature. While critics of Afro-Hispanic literature became fluent in the methodologies of New Criticism — based on structuralist , post-structuralist , culturalist , deconstructionist , reader-response , and psychoanalytic theories — many and I am one of them continue to believe that Diasporan literature cannot be divorced from the cultural and historical context out of which it emerges.
Consequently, scholars have found that the theories and praxis of culturalism , new historicism , and postcolonialism are particularly relevant to the interpretation of texts by writers of African descent. Since the s, feminist studies, especially those on African, Caribbean, and African American literatures, have widened the perspectives of literary critics such as Janet Jones Hampton , Rosemary Geisdorfer Feal , and the late Caroll Mills Young. Two other phenomena have deepened and broadened approaches to literary interpretation in the field: media studies, especially those in film and the visual arts; and the idea that a cultural production — a poem, house, painting, calypso, soccer — is a text that can be "read.
Although literary critics have brought new interpretations to texts, Blacks in Hispanic Literature is still relevant because it laid the foundation for the articles, books, courses, conferences, bibliographies, and journals that have been produced in the last three decades. It did so by introducing scholars to an innovative and challenging academic discipline, by defining and shaping the contours of that discipline, and by providing an aesthetic that could be defended or disputed.
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Biographies and Abstracts
Colonialism and Race in Luso-Hispanic Literature. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, Gayle, Addison. The Black Aesthetic. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Jackson, Richard L. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, Johnson, Lemuel A. Port Washington, N.
Jones, Warren, III. Juang, Richard M. Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Rashidi, Runoko. Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays. Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis.
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Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin , published in the s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic.
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This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. For example, Antonio Olliz Boyd's examination of Blackness in Latin American literature is an unwitting call-and-response to Ortiz's analysis of negritud.
Similarly, Martha Cobb and Sylvia Wynter examine concepts of race and representation in Spanish peninsular literature from the Moorish conquest through the Siglo de Oro. John F. This edition of BHL includes a new introduction, which traces the development of Afro-Hispanic creative writing and literary criticism in the past thirty years.
The field has been enriched by the publication of three important journals, organization of seminars and conferences, and application of new critical methodologies. This edition also includes a bibliographic essay that describes the creative production of Afro-Hispanic writers, particularly women, Latinos, and Ecuatoguineans who have emerged in the last three decades. The updated bibliography describes the publications of scholars, such as Richard L. Jackson and Marvin A. Lewis, who have broadened the field to include analyses of genres, themes, countries, and individual authors.
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This collection introduced many academics to a new discipline, defined and shaped the contours of that discipline, and provided an aesthetic that led to the development of other theories. Cited by a literary critic in as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature. Thenesoya's work on Canarian immigration to the United States is a natural way to expand her dissertation research into new directions, including ethnography, popular history and digital humanities.
She is also developing a research project on African and Asian literatures in Spanish that aims to make visible obliterated Spanish-speaking spaces of cultural production by establishing a dialogue between them.