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Ghetto Fictions: Street Literature and the Frailty of the Black Literati

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Abstract:

Magazines and newspapers as diverse as Essence and the New York Times have brought increased attention to the rising popularity of contemporary urban fiction. Through their coverage and promotion of so-called “ghetto fiction,” publishing houses, professional editors, and popular media have moved urban fiction from the margins of literary enterprise – street-corner sales and self-publication – to the center of a multi-million dollar publishing industry. But this move has not come without a range of new debates that seem to rest continually on questions of ghetto fiction’s literary value, validity, and representativeness. In examining reader responses to urban literature, particularly those public responses to novels that have managed to make their way from the margins to the mainstream, I argue that street literature exposes black middle class anxieties about the very fragile position they occupy in the literary marketplace, a position that leaves them feeling culturally “exposed,” socially displaced, and monetarily marginalized. The frailty of black middle class identity – as captured in ghetto fiction outselling more middle-brow forms of black literature – offers us a space in which to consider how twenty-first century literary conservatism mediates and structures black written expression.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436301_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Mott, Shani. "Ghetto Fictions: Street Literature and the Frailty of the Black Literati" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436301_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mott, S. T. "Ghetto Fictions: Street Literature and the Frailty of the Black Literati" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436301_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: Magazines and newspapers as diverse as Essence and the New York Times have brought increased attention to the rising popularity of contemporary urban fiction. Through their coverage and promotion of so-called “ghetto fiction,” publishing houses, professional editors, and popular media have moved urban fiction from the margins of literary enterprise – street-corner sales and self-publication – to the center of a multi-million dollar publishing industry. But this move has not come without a range of new debates that seem to rest continually on questions of ghetto fiction’s literary value, validity, and representativeness. In examining reader responses to urban literature, particularly those public responses to novels that have managed to make their way from the margins to the mainstream, I argue that street literature exposes black middle class anxieties about the very fragile position they occupy in the literary marketplace, a position that leaves them feeling culturally “exposed,” socially displaced, and monetarily marginalized. The frailty of black middle class identity – as captured in ghetto fiction outselling more middle-brow forms of black literature – offers us a space in which to consider how twenty-first century literary conservatism mediates and structures black written expression.


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Street Fiction: Black Femaleness, Identity and Representation


 
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