A stimulating study of black literature and an analysis of the 1960s through literary art
In Connecting Times Norman Harris focuses on how Afro-Americans
involved in the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, or the
Vietnam War either failed or achieved in making sense of their lives
when the goals they struggled for were not accomplished. In seven novels
whose plot and characterization are determined by one or more of these
major historical events - Meridian, Look What They Done to My Song,
The Cotillion or One Good Bull is Half the Herd, The Last Days of
Louisiana Red, Captain Blackman, Coming Home, and Tragic
Magic - Harris finds the basis for his interpretations, and he finds
the place of these novels likewise in the context of historical writings
of the 1960s.
Central to Harris's analysis of history through
literature is the idea of the quest myth that permeates Afro-American
culture. According to Robert Stepto, the quest is for freedom and
literacy, freedom as an end to slavery and literacy as the ability to
read, write, and indeed to interpret cultural signs.
Afro-Americans attuned to their culture this symbolic meaning manifests
a collective significance for Afro-American cultural symbols. It is
these whom Harris considers truly literate.
He extends his concept of
freedom to knowledge of the many options available in the reservoir of
Afro-American history. This freedom is knowledge of racial memory, and
one's awareness of this racial memory and its effect upon individuals in
confrontational situations determines one's degree of literacy.
is these definitions of freedom and literacy and the Afro-American quest
for them that Harris applies in his analysis of literature set against
the historical backdrop of Civil Rights, Black Power, and Vietnam.
This study of American social history under the illuminating ray of
the novels rising out of the black struggle for freedom and literacy
offers valuable insights and new interpretations for a pivotal time in
the United States.
Dr. Norman Harris is President of One World Archives and has more
than thirty years of university teaching experience at a variety of
research universities including the University of Georgia, Purdue
University, and Wayne State University. Dr. Harris on the faculty of the
College of Educational Leadership and Change at Fielding Graduate
197 pages, 6 x 9 inches