Creating the Norm: The African-American Literary Tradition

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Oana Cogeanu


This paper starts from the premise that norm, in the sense of a prescriptive tradition based on a set of standards deriving from past practices and regulating future ones, is the result of an initial creative gesture; in other words, first there was creativity and creativity became the norm. Based on this premise, the paper looks at some of the earliest African-American pieces of writing to trace the itinerary from creativity to norm, thus witnessing the birth of the African-American literary tradition. To this end, the paper analyses the first published Black narrative and identifies the trope of the talking book as illustrating that original gesture which, by creatively incorporating the norm, marks the beginning of a new tradition. Then the paper follows subsequent early Black narratives and identifies the creative transgression of the norm illustrated by the Middle Passage as the process by which the new norm is established.

Article Details

How to Cite
Cogeanu, O. “Creating the Norm: The African-American Literary Tradition”. Linguaculture, vol. 3, no. 2, Dec. 2012, pp. 23-30, doi:10.1515/lincu-2015-0002.
Author Biography

Oana Cogeanu, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, RO

Oana Cogeanu is a junior lecturer at the English Department of Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Romanian, a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies and obtained her PhD in 2010 with a dissertation on African-American travel literature. She is currently preparing a postdoctoral study on the travel literature of American ethnic groups. Her research interests are African-American literature, travel writing, literary and cultural theory.


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