Cover for foreman: Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century. Click for larger image

Activist Sentiments

Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century

Examining how nineteenth-century Black women writers engaged radical reform, sentiment and their various readerships

Activist Sentiments takes as its subject women who in fewer than fifty years moved from near literary invisibility to prolific productivity. Grounded in primary research and paying close attention to the historical archive, this book offers against-the-grain readings of the literary and activist work of Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Victoria Earle Matthews, and Amelia E. Johnson.

Part literary criticism and part cultural history, Activist Sentiments examines nineteenth-century social, political, and representational literacies and reading practices. P. Gabrielle Foreman reveals how Black women's complex and confrontational commentary--often expressed directly in their journalistic prose and organizational involvement--emerges in their sentimental, and simultaneously political, literary production.

"A bold work of literary activism."--Legacy


"A wonderful piece of scholarship."--Southern Historian

"A breathtaking and brilliant book."--Signs

"Activist Sentiments reevaluates with a savvy, critical eye the nexus of sex, sentiment, and reform that distinguishes classic nineteenth-century African American women's narratives. Always informative, consistently revealing, and invitingly written, Foreman's book belongs in the company of the major studies in this field by Frances Smith Foster, Hazel Carby, Claudia Tate, and Carla L. Peterson."--William L. Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, University of North Carolina, and coeditor of The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride: A Rediscovered African American Novel by Julia C. Collins

"Foreman rereads nineteenth-century women writers with fresh eyes, vividly demonstrating how they were interpreted both then and now. She asks that we heed Frances Harper's admonition to 'read aright.' Activist Sentiments does just that."--Carla L. Peterson, author of "Doers of the Word": African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North (1830-1880)

"With key readings and startling acuity, Foreman's work will be very useful not only to literary scholars but also to historians of the black woman's era."--Rafia Zafar, author of We Wear the Mask: African Americans Write American Literature, 1760-1870

"In this stimulating and impressive work, Foreman provides astute readings of previously ignored work. This text makes a significant contribution to several areas of scholarship including American literature, history, women's studies, and black studies."--Jennifer DeVere Brody, author of Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity and Victorian Culture

P. Gabrielle Foreman is a professor of English and American studies at Occidental College. She is the author of multiple articles and the coeditor of Harriet E. Wilson's Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black.

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