Our Nig; Or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black
December 20, 2011
5.1 X 7.9 X 0.9 inches | 0.7 pounds
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About the Author
Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900) was born in New Hampshire, where she worked from a young age as a servant to an abusive family.Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. The author of numerous books, including the widely acclaimed memoir Colored People, Professor Gates has also edited several anthologies and is coeditor with Kwame Anthony Appiah of Encarta Africana, an encyclopedia of the African Diaspora. An influential cultural critic, he is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and other publications and is the recipient of many honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the National Humanities Medal. Richard J. Ellis is Professor and Chair of the American and Canadian Studies Department at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. He has published widely on American studies topics. His two most recent monographs are Liar! Liar!--Jack Kerouac Novelist (1999) and Harriet Wilson's Our Nig: A Cultural Biography (2003). He is the editor of Comparative American Studies: An International Journal and currently serves on the ASA's International Committee.
"I sat up most of the night reading and pondering the enormous significance of Harriet Wilson's novel, Our Nig. It is as if we'd just discovered Phillis Wheatley--or Langston Hughes.... She represents a similar vastness of heretofore unexamined experience, a whole new layer of time and existence in American life and literature." --Alice Walker "The story of Henry Louis Gates' discovery of this extraordinary book and his persistent search for the true identity of the author is a notable and lasting contribution to the literary history of black Americans." --Ann Petry "Our Nig is a fascinating and revealing historical document that transmogrifies the rhetorical devices of the sentimental 'woman's novel' into an early Afro-American commentary on race, class, and poverty in mid-nineteenth-century America. Professor Gates' introduction and critical apparatus describe the detective work that established Harriet E. Wilson's authorship; Professor Gates also places the book within the widest literary and historical context." --David Brion Davis, Sterling Professor of History, Yale University "Harriet Wilson's use of the conventions of sentimental fiction demonstrates conclusively that fictional forms were at least as important in determining how we write what we write as were the slave narratives. Professor Gates' discovery confirms my suspicion that there was more 'free-floating' literacy available to Negroes than has been assumed." --Ralph Ellison