Charles Johnson in context

Linda Furgerson Selzer

Research output: Book/ReportBook

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Author of the National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage, Charles Johnson belongs to a generation of writers who collectively raised African American literature to a new position of prominence during the late twentieth century. In this book, Linda Furgerson Selzer takes an interdisciplinary approach to Johnson's major fiction, providing fresh insight into his work by placing it within a broad historical context. In addition to Middle Passage (1990), Selzer focuses on three other novels: Faith and the Good Thing (1974), Oxherding Tale (1982), and Dreamer (1998). She shows how these works reflect Johnson's participation in the larger cultural projects of several significant but often overlooked groups-young black philosophers who challenged the dominant Anglo-American empiricist tradition during the 1960s and 1970s; black Buddhists of the post-civil rights era who sought to translate an ancient religious practice into an African American idiom; and black public intellectuals who attempted to revive a cosmopolitan social ethic during the 1990s. The cultural histories of each of these groups, Selzer argues, provide important contexts for understanding Johnson's evolution as a novelist. In the academic experience of black students who entered philosophy programs during the turbulent 1960s, the spiritual concerns of black Buddhists who have only recently begun to speak more publicly about their faith, and the cultural issues surrounding the emergence of a new cohort of African American public intellectuals, we see the roots of the social, moral, and aesthetic vision that informs what some have described as Johnson's "philosophical fiction." Selzer's probing analysis of the influence of each of these contexts not only enriches our understanding of Charles Johnson's fiction, it also makes a broader contribution to the cultural history of African America during the past half century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of Massachusetts Press
Number of pages306
ISBN (Print)9781558496989
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

Fingerprint

Fiction
Buddhist
Public Intellectuals
Middle Passage
Cultural History
1960s
Faith
African Americans
Philosopher
Religious Practices
Writer
Cohort
Social Ethics
Idioms
Civil Rights
Anglo-American
Novel
Historical Context
1990s
Empiricist

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Selzer, L. F. (2009). Charles Johnson in context. University of Massachusetts Press.
Selzer, Linda Furgerson. / Charles Johnson in context. University of Massachusetts Press, 2009. 306 p.
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Selzer, LF 2009, Charles Johnson in context. University of Massachusetts Press.

Charles Johnson in context. / Selzer, Linda Furgerson.

University of Massachusetts Press, 2009. 306 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Selzer LF. Charles Johnson in context. University of Massachusetts Press, 2009. 306 p.