Blogs > Liberty and Power > Henry Louis Gates "Rediscoveries" Called into Question

Mar 12, 2005 5:11 pm

Henry Louis Gates "Rediscoveries" Called into Question

Ralph Luker has a fascinating discussion about how Henry Louis Gates, a well-known historian of black history, wrongly identified one (possibly two)"rediscovered" authors from the nineteenth century as black.

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Sudha Shenoy - 3/13/2005

I found the posts that Ralph Luker linked to, very interesting. What fascinates me, however, is that a few decades after abolition, there were already a respectable number of 'black' writers, with a large 'black' readership. In other words, the _demand_ for 'literature' grew quickly. It would appear that Victorian ideas of 'improvement' & 'upward' cultural mobility were _acted_ on. Dull some of the novels may have been, but they had what Victorians would've called 'improving' themes. This seems to me much more significant than trying to read the works _as if_ they had been produced in the early 21st century, by authors wearing late 19th century costume.