Prof. Knight Publishes New Book
Published in early 2012 by the University of Tennessee Press, Alisha Knight’s Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream: An African American Writer’s (Re)Visionary Gospel of Success provides literary scholars and historians alike with insight into the life and writings of a woman who openly confronted discrimination at the turn of the century.
Knight, an associate professor of English and American Studies at Washington College explained her interest in Hopkins: “Pauline Hopkins broke the mold of the domestic tradition of nineteenth-century women’s writing, choosing instead to use self-made African American men and women to critique the racism and sexism that prevailed in American society”
A prolific writer, Hopkins published four novels, seven short stories, and numerous articles for the Colored American Magazine, where she also worked as an editor, in just the four-year period between 1900 and 1904. The Maine native lost her position at the magazine because of her habit of challenging authority figures with her then-revolutionary ideas about how literature should be used to advocate racial and gender equality in a Post-Civil War America. Her “Famous Men” and “Famous Women” series for the Colored American Magazine offered African American models of success, but her fiction often depicted African American heroes who either failed to achieve success at home because of societal barriers, or found success only after leaving the United States.
“I’ve always been interested in authors who have been underrepresented in the canon and in the classroom,” Knight explained “and being able to study Pauline Hopkins at length has been fulfilling. I’m pleased that Hopkins has been gaining attention, and I hope my book helps make her work more accessible to students and everyday readers. Hopkins wanted her writing to reach a broad audience, and she worked hard to produce material that was both straightforward and intellectually engaging. I would like to think that my book does likewise.”