Bibliography: The Classical Tradition and People of African Descent

August 2008

Michele Valerie Ronnick

By Ronnick

The First Three African American Members of the American Philological Association (Philadelphia: American Philological Association, 2001) pamphlet.

1) "The Latin Quotations in the Correspondence of Edward Wilmot Blyden," Negro Educational Review 46 (1994) 101-106.

2) "'A Pick Instead of Greek and Latin:' The African-American Quest for Useful Knowledge, 1880-1920," Negro Educational Review 47(1996) 60-73.

3) "William Sanders Scarborough: The First Professional Classicist of African-American Descent," Negro Educational Review 47 (1997) 162-168.

4) "William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926)," Classical Outlook 74(1997) 139-140.

5) "After Lefkowitz and Bernal: Research Opportunities in Classica Africana," Negro History Bulletin 60(1997) 5-10.

6) "The Meaning of 'Mascon' Words: An Image from Greek Drama in Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s 'Literary Theory and the Black Tradition,' " Res Publica Litterarum 20(1997) 203-206.

7) "Virgil's Aeneid and John Quincy Adams' Speech for the Amistad Blacks," New England Quarterly 71 (1998) 473-477.

8) "Francis Williams: An Eighteenth-Century Tertium Quid," Negro History Bulletin, 61(1998) 19-29.

9) "Concerning Pap Finn's 'Mulatter' College Professor and Wilberforce University's William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926)," Negro Educational Review 49 (1998) 89-92.

10) "A Reference to Raymond G. von Tobel of Macon, Georgia in the Correspondence of Booker T. Washington," Negro Educational Review 50(1999)129-130.

11) "William Henry Crogman (1865-1930)," Classical Outlook 77(2000) 67-68.

12) "Racial Ideology and the Classics in the African American University Experience," Classical Bulletin 76(2000) 169-180.

13) "William Sanders Scarborough: The First African American Member of the Modern Language Association," Publications of the Modern Language Association, Special Millennium Edition 115(2000) 1787-1793.

14) "John Wesley Gilbert (c.1865-1923),"Classical Outlook 78(2001)113-114.

15) "Wiley Lane (1852-1885)," Classical Outlook 79(2002) 108-109.

16) "The African American Classicist William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926) and the Early Days of CAMWS," Classical Journal 97(2002) 263-266.

17) "New Tanner Document," International Review of African American Art 18(2002) 53-54.

18) "George Morton Lightfoot (1868 -1947)," Classical Outlook 80(2002) 22-23.

19) "A Look at Booker T. Washington's Attitude Toward the Study of Greek and Latin by People of African Ancestry," Negro Educational Review 53(2002) 59-70.

21) "First Lessons in Greek [1881]: William Sanders Scarborough's Date with Destiny," A.M.E. Church Review 118(2002) 30-43.

22) "12 Black Classicists," Arion 11 (2004) 85-102

23) "Early African-American Scholars in the Classics: A Photograhic Essay," Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 43 (2004) 101-105


Additonal Bibliography by others:

1) Becker, Trudy Harrington, "Daniel B. Williams," Classical Outlook 76(1999) 94-95.

___ "A Source for Ideology: The Classical Education of Martin Luther King," Classical Bulletin 76(2000) 181-189.

___ "Broadening Access to a Classical Education: State Universities in Virginia in the Nineteenth Century," Classical Journal 96(2001) 309-322.

2) Brucia, Margaret, "The African-American Poet, Jupiter Hammon: A Home-Born Slave and his Classical Name," International Journal of the Classical Tradition 7(2002) 515-522.

3) Cowherd, Carrie, "The Wings of Atalanta: The Classical Influences in The Souls of Black Folk," The Souls of Black Folk: One Hundred Years Later (U. of Missouri, 2003) 284-297.

4) Curtis, Nancy A., "Classics and Our African American Students," American Classical League Newsletter (Spring,1998) 6-9.

5) De Luce, Judith, "Classics in Historically Black Colleges and Universities," American Classical League Newsletter 21(1999) 10-12.

6) Fikes, Robert, Jr., "It Was Never Greek to Them: Black Affinity for Ancient Greek and Roman Culture," Negro Educational Review 53(2002) 3-12.

7) Fikes, Robert, Jr., "African-American Scholars of Greco-Roman Culture," Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 35(2002)120-124.

8) King, Joy, "Ruth Cave Flowers," Classical Outlook, 74(1996) 59-60.

9) West, William C., "Socrates as a Model of Civil Disobedience in the Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.," Classical Bulletin 76(2000) 191-200.

10) Judith Fletcher, "Signifying Circe in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, " Classical World 99 (2006) 405-418.

11) Barry Strauss "The Black Phalanx: African-Americans and the Classics After the Civil War,"
Arion, A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, Third Series 12.3 (Winter 2005): 39-64.

Ulysses  in Black
 Ralph Ellison, Classicism, and African American Literature
Patrice D. Rankine

Wisconsin Studies in Classics,  William Aylward, Nicholas D. Cahill,
 and Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, General Editors

"Ulysses in Black is a powerful  and pioneering study that creatively links the rich traditions  of classical antiquity to contemporary black thought. I highly recommend it."-Cornel  West, Princeton University

In this groundbreaking work, Patrice D.  Rankine asserts that the classics need not be a mark of Eurocentrism,  as they have long been considered. Instead, the classical tradition can be part of a self-conscious, prideful approach to African American culture, esthetics, and identity. Ulysses in Black demonstrates that, similar to their white counterparts, African  American authors have been students of classical languages, literature,  and mythologies by such writers as Homer, Euripides, and Seneca.

Ulysses in Black closely analyzes classical themes (the nature of love and its relationship to the social, Dionysus in myth as a parallel to the black protagonist in the American scene,  misplaced Ulyssean manhood) as seen in the works of such African  American writers as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Countee  Cullen. Rankine finds that the merging of a black esthetic with  the classics-contrary to expectations throughout American  culture-has often been a radical addressing of concerns  including violence against blacks, racism, and oppression. Ultimately,  this unique study of black classicism becomes an exploration  of America's broader cultural integrity, one that is inclusive and historic.

"At last-Patrice D. Rankine's  model study gives us the literary methodology needed to think  about black classicism vis-à-vis the Ulysses theme in  the writings of Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison. More important,  he gives us a 'lens' for seeing what thoughtful literary analysis  of black classicism reveals about our national psyche."-Michele  Valerie Ronnick, Wayne State University

Patrice  D. Rankine is associate professor of classics and director of the Interdisciplinary Program in  Classics at Purdue University.

 For more information contact Benson Gardner, our publicity manager,  phone: (608) 263-0734, email:

Tracey L. Walters
(Palgrave Macmillan: 2007)  224 pages
$69.95 - Hardback (0-230-60022-0)

Tracey L. Walters is Associate Professor of Literature at Stony Brook University. She has published articles in the area of Classica Africana as well as Black British Literature. Her latest edited collection of essays is" Zadie Smith: Critical Essays."   

This is a groundbreaking study exploring the significant relationship between western classical mythology and African American women's literature. A comparative analysis of classical revisions by eighteenth and nineteenth century Black women writers Phillis Wheatley and Pauline Hopkins and twentieth century writers Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, and Rita Dove reveals that Black women writers revise specific classical myths for artistic and political agency. The study demonstrates that women rework myth to represent mythical stories from the Black female perspective and to counteract denigrating contemporary cultural and social myths that disempower and devalue Black womanhood. Through their adaptations of classical myths about motherhood, Wheatley, Ray, Brooks, Morrison, and Dove uncover the shared experiences of mythic mothers and their contemporary African American counterparts thus offering a unique Black feminist perspective to classicism. The women also use myth as a liberating space where they can "speak the unspeakable" and empower their subjects as well as themselves.
Table of contents
I. Writing the Classics Black: The Poetic and Political Function of Classical Revision in the Works of Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, and Rita Dove
II. Historical Overview of Ancient and Contemporary Representations of Classical Mythology
III. Classical Discourse as Political Agency: African-American Revisionist Mythmaking by Phillis Wheatley, Henrietta Cordelia Ray, and Pauline Hopkins
IV. Gwendolyn Brooks' Racialization of the Persephone and Demeter Myth
V. Toni Morrison's Classical Fusion
VI. Rita Dove's Mother Love: A Return to Form                 

 "Not many scholars have the opportunity to trail blaze and publish a seminal work; Walters has a just that, and will make a major impact on scholarship in Classics, Black Studies, and Comparative Literature. Walters' work fosters discussion on how black women have used the classics - as empowering, complicated, subtle; how black women signify off of one another; and generally how a handful of extremely important writers from a local or specific context found universal appeal. Walters moves from Phillis Wheatley to Rita Dove, while also discussing authors such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Toni Morrison. This is a wonderful array of significant authors."
Patrice Rankine, Associate Professor, Purdue University

The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926): An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship

The Works of William Sanders Scarborough: Black Classicist and Race Leader (Oxford UP, 2006)

14) Barbara Goff and Michael Simpson, Crossroads in the Black Aegean: Oedipus, Antigone and Dramas of the African Diaspora, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN-13: 9780199217182 and ISBN-10: 0199217181.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Answering Another Sphinx
1. Intersections and Networks
2. Back to the Motherland: Ola Rotimi's The Gods are Not to Blame
3. Oedipus Rebound: Rita Dove's The Darker Face of the Earth
4. The City on the Edge: Lee Breuer's The Gospel at Colonus
5. The Wine-Dark Caribbean? Kamau Brathwaite's Odale's Choice and Derek Walcott's Omeros
6. No Man's Island: Fugard, Kani, and Ntshona's The Island
7. History Sisters: Femi Osofisan's Tegonni: An African Antigone

15) Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., The Athenian Sun in an African Sky: Modern African Adaptations of Classical Greek Tragedy, McFarland & Company, 2001, ISBN-13: 9780786410934.

Table of Contents
1. Africas Classical Legacy Athens: African Legacy
2. Afrocentric, ancient Greece, Dionysus: Attic Tragedy Afric Tragedy
3. Aristophanes, orature, hamartia: Ritual Roots and Tragic Form
4. Dionysus, Pentheus, Ijaw: The Voice of the Polis
5. Apartheid, Medea, Ghanan: Orestes in South Africa
6. Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Clytemnestra, isicathamiya
7. African Antigones: Creon, Odale, Bemba
8. African Theatre in a Postcultural World: Hippolytus, Phaedra, South African
Bibliography, Ibadan, Critical Theory, African Literature

16) Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theater, McFarland & Company, 2003, ISBN-13: 978-0786415458.

Table of Contents
Introduction: Greek Tragedy and the African Diaspora
1. Black Athena Meets Black Orpheus: Three Models of the Afro-Greek Connection
2. Afro(American)centric Classicism and African American Theater
3. Ancient Plays in a New World: Multicultural Currents
4. Black Medea
5. Mediterranean/ Caribbean or Odyseus Looks for Home