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Representing the RaceA New Political History of African American Literature$
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Gene Andrew Jarrett

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814743386

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814743386.001.0001

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The Political Audacity of Barack Obama’s Literature

The Political Audacity of Barack Obama’s Literature

(p.161) 6 The Political Audacity of Barack Obama’s Literature
Representing the Race

Gene Andrew Jarrett

NYU Press

This chapter argues that Obama, while now representing a so-called post-racial phenomenon, has alternately turned away from the radical forms and moved toward the reconciliatory forms of African American literature written during the Black Arts, Black Power, and Black Studies Movements spanning the 1960s and the 1970s. Critics and scholars agree that Obama's 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, is a fine piece of writing. Its literary quality has much to do with the range and depth of Obama's attention to literature across his life. Unfortunately, his second and third books—The Audacity of Hope and Change We Can Believe In—sacrifice literariness for political exigency, according to the consensus of reviewers.

Keywords:   Barack Obama, African American literature, Black Power Movement, political exigency

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