Editing Black Aesthetics: Hoyt Fuller, Toni Morrison and 'The Black Book'
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Editing Black Aesthetics examines how editors shaped African American literature of the 1960s and 1970s. This period saw the rise of the Black Arts Movement, described by Larry Neal as the “aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept,” along with the movement’s signature project: the search for “the Black aesthetic.” The term has been variously defined as a call for Pan-African cultural nationalism as well as a backlash against Eurocentric values in Black art. The period between 1961 and 1976 also saw a rise in independent, Black-owned publishers seeking to cultivate Black audiences across ages and ideologies. Keeping these developments in mind, this project identifies Black aesthetics as a series of editor-led publishing initiatives. These initiatives were reflected across the era’s print culture, from Hoyt Fuller adapting Negro Digest (renamed Black World in 1970) to better reflect the era’s Black radicalism (which I discuss in Chapter 1) to Toni Morrison’s publishing of books by Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, and Middleton A. Harris which challenged Western views of authority and history as top-down (which I discuss in Chapters 2 and 3). By analyzing Black aesthetics in the context of editing and publishing, I demonstrate that its lack of a singular definition is its greatest asset, as it allowed editors to target diffuse audiences of Black readers, in turn accomplishing the another of the era’s central tenets: raising consciousness through art.
Black aesthetics; Black arts movement; Fuller Hoyt; Morrison Toni; Print culture; Publishing
Attell, Kevin D.; Samuels, Shirley R.; Spires, Derrick R.
English Language and Literature
Ph. D., English Language and Literature
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis