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Spring 2021 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for spring 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

My Father's Shadow
Intergenerational Conflict in African American Men's Autobiography

David L. Dudley

192 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512809381 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

In My Father's Shadow, David L. Dudley explores a line of African American men's autobiographies. starting with Frederick Douglass and moving on through Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Eldridge Cleaver, and Malcolm X.

In life, these writers did not enjoy "normal" relationships with their fathers, who were all unknown, absent. or abusive. Damaged and damaging father-son relationships in childhood, Dudley contends, spill over into adult personal and artistic relationships, clouding and complicating the already complex issue of identity that lies at the core of any autobiographical endeavor. Dudley identifies a kind of inter­generational Oedipus conflict: each rising autobiographer seeks. through his text to displace his predecessor in order to gain imaginative space for himself as well as a position of authority in the black (and sometimes, white) community. As each writer strives to come to terms with the powerful father figure in the black male autobiographical tradition. he also wrestles with the larger issue of his own identity in relation to the literary and cultural traditions in which he lives and writes. Dudley also traces the triumph of these writers as they establish their own identity in the face of great personal and societal odds.

My Father's Shadow is an important contribution to the study of African American literature, history, politics, and culture. It will also serve as an examination of the experiences of seven writers as they struggle with what it means to be a black man and a black writer in America.

David L. Dudley is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Literature and Philosophy at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro.

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