To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature by Eric J. Sundquist (review)

To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature by Eric J. Sundquist (Harvard University Press, 1993)

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To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature by Eric J. Sundquist (review)

by Joel Williamson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 2, No. 1: Fall 1995

Harvard University Press, 1993

In To Wake the Nations, Eric Sundquist argues persuasively that literary scholars have not yet fully appreciated the contribution of African American literature to American literary culture. He also makes the more fundamental argument that they have hardly begun to recognize the general impact of African American culture on mainstream American culture. Not only has the work of some black writers been undervalued but, as a consequence, work by celebrated white writers has also not received its due. We tend to see African American literature—black—and European American literature—white—as entirely separate, each contained in its own clear glass jar, within sight but hermetically sealed from one another.

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