The Role of Literature in Shaping African American Culture – Annotated Bibliography Example

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The paper “ The Role of Literature in Shaping African American Culture" is a great example of an annotated bibliography on culture. Frenkel, Ronit concerns this topic in “ Reconsidering South African Indian fiction postapartheid” . In this recent work, Frenkel explores how recently published South African Indian fiction has given rise to new ways of thinking, and re-shape the history of the culture. Frenkel believes that from the beginning, South African Indian fiction is an integration of race and identity formations. Through the changes that happened in South Africa, Frenkel maintains that it is now possible to look at South African Indian literature using a different lens.

From postapartheid writing, the author says that the researcher can get a glimpse of the unique aspects of the South African and Indian cultures and begin to understand the dynamics of nationalism, migration and gender. Frenkel believes that South African Indian postapartheid literature uses different vantage points, depending on their personal experiences of the writer. And by trying to understand that background of the writer, Frenkel says that one can gain a holistic view of the entire South African Indian culture.

Moreover, Frenkel believes that these postapartheid work provide a commentary on the workings of society, thereby allowing the researcher to understand how South African Indian and transnational cultures intersect. Through the analysis of texts, Frenkel discovered that the South African Indian culture is made up of diverse practices but despite this diaspora, there is something that unites these communities together. Knofickova, Marie. “ Racial identities revisited: Toni Morrison’ s ‘ Recitatif’ .” Litteraria Pragensia 21.42 (2011): 22-33. Print. In this article, Marie Knofickova looks at how race and racial identities are treated in Toni Morisson’ s Recitatif.

Knofickova says that Recitatif is an example of the “ amalgamation of cultural heritage” where slavery was seen as a major factor in the formation of the African American culture. The author believes that Recitatif is unique in that it uses an uncommon narrative strategy to present the controversial issue of race and racial identity. Through Recitatif, Knofickova attempts to debunk racial stereotypes and tries to bind the two races, the Black and White into one. She promotes the idea that race is just one of the many identities that a person has to assume in their lifetime and that the color of the skin should not be used to disunite a previously united people.

Using the friendship of Roberta and Twyla as an analogy, Knofickova says that racial identity is not central to the personality of an individual, it is not the color of the skin or other physical attributes that affect an individual’ s values. Instead, it is the ideas and assumption of the society about these physical characteristics that made the difference.

In short, the physical differences between the Black and White made an impression that these two “ cultures” are different, when in fact they were the same from the beginning. Knofickova believes that if there is a difference in the culture of Black and White Americans today, then it is because of the Black American’ s experience of slavery. The songs they played, the entertainment they devised all served to provide them a separate identity which the Whites were unable to develop because they did not have the same experience.

Knoficka regards Recitatif as an excellent piece of literature because it does not deal with racial identities directly, instead, the story tries to deconstruct and eliminate the issue of race as a determinant of one’ s personality. Henderson, Felicia D. “ The culture behind closed doors: Issues of gender and race in the writer’ s room. ” Cinema Journal 50.2 (2011): 145-152. Print. Felicia Henderson’ s article centers on the dynamics inside the writer’ s room – that “ sacred space” where television scripts are created and ideas for jokes and quips are approved for public consumption.

Through this article, Henderson tries to explore how issues of race and gender are handled in the case of collaborative decision-making such as what happens inside the writer’ s room. Henderson says that the writer’ s room is a place where “ ideas are negotiated, the consensus is formed, and issues of gender, race, and class identities play out” (146). She says that the writer’ s room has its own rituals and norms, and like that of a traditional society, anybody who refuses to adhere to these socio-cultural practices is considered a deviant. Aside from the subscription to the norms, Henderson says that a writer can be “ othered” based on differences (gender and race are just two of the many factors).

Depending on a writer’ s personal background and perception of his or her influence, a writer learns to present ideas which are acceptable to the more powerful writers who are in the same room. This process effectively silences the “ other” , hence creating a homogenization of ideas. The ideas of the powerful are then used in a TV show, which in turn gets consumed by TV audiences.   From Henderson’ s discussions, one can already see that the dynamics inside the writer’ s room holds true for the general society.

For example, writers aim to “ assimilate” with the more powerful ones. In some cases, Henderson says, the race has a role in a writer’ s capability to bond with other writers. In a TV sitcom whose writers are all Jews, non-Jews will find it more difficult to integrate. Henderson says that cultural privileging happens and trash talking is upheld for the benefit of the show. The TV is a powerful media, and Henderson believes that researcher also has to look at what’ s happening inside the writer’ s room instead of just utilizing a contextual analysis, genre study, and audience reception.

She believes that by uncovering the dynamics of the protected culture of the writer’ s room, the researcher can begin to describe society.

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