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African Americans and the Classics: Antiquity, Abolition and Activism

African Americans and the Classics: Antiquity, Abolition and Activism
Margaret Malamud

  • Hardback | Not defined | £85.00

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  • Hardback | Out of Stock | $135.00


A new wave of research in black classicism has emerged in the 21st century that explores the role played by the classics in the larger cultural traditions of black America, Africa and the Caribbean. Addressing a gap in this scholarship, Margaret Malamud investigates why and how advocates for abolition and black civil rights (both black and white) deployed their knowledge of classical literature and history in their struggle for black liberty and equality in the United States. African Americans boldly staked their own claims to the classical world: they deployed texts, ideas and images of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt in order to establish their authority in debates about slavery, race, politics and education. A central argument of this book is that knowledge and deployment of Classics was a powerful weapon and tool for resistance-as improbable as that might seem now-when wielded by black and white activists committed to the abolition of slavery and the end of the social and economic oppression of free blacks. The book significantly expands our understanding of both black history and classical reception in the United States.

Author Info

Margaret Malamud is Professor of Ancient History and Islamic Studies at New Mexico State University, where she is also the S.P. and Margaret Manasse Research Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is author of the acclaimed book Ancient Rome and Modern America (2009) and her articles have appeared in the scholarly collections African Athena (2012) and Ancient Slavery and Abolition (2011).


'This wonderful book offers an insightful account of African American engagement with classical Greece and Rome.  As the author says, readers will be startled by the breadth and intensity of the engagement with Classics among African Americans.  The classical texts were used in struggles over abolition, racism, and civil rights as well as in a variety of other contexts.  Margaret Malamud’s knowledge of the material is precise and impressive, her prose lucid and hard-hitting.  She shows how much there is to learn from the role that Classics has played in African American history and culture.'
Phiroze Vasunia, Professor of Greek, University College London

'This is the book that historians of classical reception in America have been awaiting for decades.  The first book regarding African Americans' relationship with the Greco-Roman classics that spans the first century and a half of the United States, its meticulous research and clear writing set the bar high for all future studies.  The author of Ancient Rome and Modern America has written another classic.'
Carl J. Richard, Professor of History, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

'Malamud adds to our understanding of the vital, enduring influence of classical literature on the American experience with particular attention to abolitionist thought and the intellectual aspirations of African Americans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Her sensitive account acknowledges the ethical and political challenges involved in the African American pursuit of classical knowledge.  Of particular interest is her insight into the role Egypt played in opening up ways to celebrate African identity.' 
Joy Connolly, Provost and Professor of Classics, CUNY Graduate Center, New York

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: Library of Classical Studies

ISBN: 9781784534950
Publication Date: 29 Oct 2016
Number of Pages: 293
Height: 216
Width: 135
Illustrations: 20 b/w integrated

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