Reflections are we global yet? Africa and the future of early modern studies

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For the past twenty years, early modern scholars have called for more scholarly attention to people and places outside of Europe. An impressive increase in literary research on non-European texts has resulted, and I describe positive aspects of this trend, using the MLA International Bibliography database. However, research on African-language literatures has declined since 2003 or has continued to flatline at nothing. A radical antiracist solution is needed, for no field can succeed with Africa as a lacuna. I call on all early modern scholars, regardless of their language knowledge, to cite at least one early modern African-language text in their next publication. I describe five such in this article, a tiny sample of the thousands of written texts that Black Africans across the continent composed in African languages before 1830. Asking early modern scholars to embrace the uncomfortable practice of “token citation” will enable these texts to circulate in the realm of knowledge and further efforts to diversify and broaden the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-446
Number of pages34
JournalEighteenth-Century Fiction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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