African Heartbeat: Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Dynamics

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African Heartbeat: Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Dynamics

By Nancy Ann Watanabe

International Standard Book Number: 978-0-7618-7006-7     Rowman & Littlefield

December 2017©2018 108 pages  6” x 9” trim size  Hardcover List price:  $65.00

Table of Contents

Chapter 1            African-American Heroism in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Enemy of the State

Chapter 2            Zora Neale Hurston: Africa Transported to America

Chapter 3            Black African Spectral Dynamics in Contemporary Mexican Fiction: Shakespeare’s Hamlet Revisited                                                                         

[Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo and The Burning Plain, Hernán Lara Zavala’s “Hammering Away,” Álvaro Enrigue’s “On the Death of the Author,” and María Isabel Aguirre’s “Today, You Walk Along a Narrow Path”]

This informative and thought-provoking book begins by theorizing that persistence of vision has conditioned uniformed police to use fatal force against unarmed African-American suspects; black youths are victims of antebellum Civil War attitudes shaped, first by the U.S. Constitution, and then by Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850. Both Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel and Tony Scott’s 1998 film portray the runaway slave archetype, interlocking issues of slavery and freedom à la Mark Twain with the political theme of individual right to privacy contending against covert surveillance in the name of national security. African Heartbeat argues that ancient African Vodun theological cosmology, to be distinguished from popularized “voodoo,” links Hurston’s feminist protagonists to heavenly moon and sky divinities; thematically, marriage becomes a civilizing geo-historical metaphor signifying democracy’s dovetailing of ancient African and traditional Eurocentric values. Lavish parallels between Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and contemporary Mexican masterpieces of fiction are traceable to common roots in African Vodun, Norse myth, Catholicism, and Judeo Christianity. African Heartbeat’s nuanced interpretations of global antebellum and postbellum portrayals of character suggest that many of the best works of art challenge conventional assumptions about assimilation and acculturation to suggest that hard-won cooperation among red, white, and black in a climate of multiracial diversity is at the crux of America’s success as a nation.

About the Author

Nancy Ann Watanabe is Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Oklahoma, currently on assignment as Research Professor at the University of Washington. She has also taught Colonial American Literature to the Civil War and technical writing for engineering and business majors at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and Western World Literature from Homer and the Bible to Dante, Western World Literature from Shakespeare to Camus and Solzhenitsyn, English Literature to 1790, and Introduction to Comparative Studies in Literature at Boise State University. She is the author of Beloved Image: The Drama of W. B. Yeats 1865-1939 (University Press of America, 1995) and Love Eclipsed: Joyce Carol Oates’s Faustian Moral Vision (University Press of America, 1998) and of influential essays, chapters, and articles in faculty-edited scholarly books and academic journals. Her honors include Fulbright, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Mortar Board, and National Endowment for the Humanities faculty fellowship awards.

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