American Studies in Black and White
Selected Essays, 1949-1989
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The twelve essays presented here are a representative sample of the pioneering work Sydney Kaplan has produced in the fields of American and black studies. Selected from over fifty published pieces, the essays reflect Kaplan's lifelong passion to demonstrate the centrality of the African-American experience to our national experience, to show that an understanding of black history is indispensable to an understanding of American history. He takes particular pride in his works that that point out the presence and significance of African Americans who too often are rendered invisible or out of focus in national portraits. The emphasis throughout the essays is on Kaplan's attempts to give a full and fair description of what he aptly calls the American chiaroscuro: blacks and whites in the nation's images of itself in history, literature, and art.
"In more than fifty articles written during forty years of scholarly research, Sidney Kaplan has carefully and knowingly detailed the importance of the African presence in the United States. In this engaging volume, editor Allan D. Austin and the University of Massachusetts Press present a collection of twelve of Kaplan's essays. . . . The essays display the impressive breadth and depth of Kaplan's scholarly work, but more important, they demonstrate the enduring significance of race in American history and culture. . . . [Kaplan's] objects of study range across the role of slavery in shaping the colonial and revolutionary discourses of liberty, the language and imagery of race and the politics of Civil War, representations of blacks in popular culture and canonized literary texts, and the role of African Americans in the history of American invention."—Journal of American History
"Readers will find a wealth of fascinating information throughout Kaplan's essays. . . . The subjects and issues raised by Kaplan are ones that continue to interest and demand the attention of American historians."—Civil War History