African-American Literature in American Culture

How has African-American literature been accepted or acknowledged in modern times?

African-American writers and their works have increased in acceptance and, according to Gates and McKay in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, have been “enjoying renaissance in quality and quantity for the past few decades.” A host of women writers, such as Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Gloria Naylor, and Terry McMillan, have helped to lead the national interest in African-American literature. They have won Pulitzer prizes, international and American Book awards, and other recognitions. Several black writers have appeared together on the New York Times best-seller list. “This magnificent flowering of black literature crosses all racial boundaries,” according to Gates and McKay, and black literature is now prominent in the marketplace as well as in school curricula. “Black literature courses have become a central part of the offerings in English departments and in departments of American studies, African American studies, and women’s studies,” they claim.

Recognition of the writers and poets in black culture has been seen in a variety of other ways. For example, poet Maya Angelou wrote and delivered a poem for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993, and Rita Dove was Poet Laureate of the United States for an unprecedented two terms. By the twenty-first century, African-American literature still continued to flourish, along with the academic study of the field. Bearing out the findings of Gates and McKay, libraries continue to collect “critical studies, anthologies, encyclopedias, companions, chronological histories, reprints, and reference works” that enable researchers and students of the literature to capture the new and/or continuing literary tradition of African-American writers.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy African American History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App