How African-American fiction writers used elements of American romanticism to evoke social change from 1852 to 1859, 2020

Atlanta University and Clark Atlanta University Theses and Dissertations
How African-American fiction writers used elements of American romanticism to evoke social change from 1852 to 1859, 2020
King, Yusef G.
Contributor to Resource:
Vinyard, Alma
Date of Original:
Degrees, Academic
Dissertations, Academic
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
This dissertation examines the first four published fiction works by African-American writers. All of these works were published from 1852 to 1859, which most scholars consider the end of the literary movement of American Romanticism. The main objective of the dissertation is to examine the literary and rhetorical methods used in the aforementioned works and investigate the extent to which these writers used elements of American Romanticism, in addition to various other literary and rhetorical techniques, to influence nineteenth-century readers on the issue of slavery as well as a host of other concerns that specifically affected varied and diverse groups of African-Americans in the 1850s. The dissertation discusses the extent to which these writers conformed to the literary trends of their time, how and why they may have deviated from these trends, and the results of those choices. Based on a thorough review of the applicable literature, as well as a variety of scholarly journals, the study determines that each of the writers used various elements of Romanticism to appeal to broader audiences, but also utilized various nationalist and realist elements in order to address the varied and specific issues that the diverse groups of African-American characters face in each of the works. Historical and social implications are also evaluated in relation to the aforementioned works. Ultimately, the study illustrates the need for these early African-American fiction writers to be recognized among more popular nineteenth-century writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, not only for their contributions to their genres, but also for the ways in which they deviated from the applicable genres and, in turn, influenced the fiction of many other writers to come.
Date of award: 2020-05
Degree type: dissertation
Degree name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Granting institution: Clark Atlanta University
Department: Department of Humanities
Advisor: Vinyard, Alma
Metadata URL:
Holding Institution:
Clark Atlanta University
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