WHAT BOOKS BY AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN WERE ACQUIRED BY AMERICAN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES? A Study of Institutional Legitimation, Exclusion, and Implicit Censorship

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This study examines the publication, review and collection of fiction and poetry titles written by African-American women, published between 1980-1990 by Association of Research Libraries member academic libraries located in the United States. It is an examination of institutionalized legitimizing social forces and their influence on the collection and sanctioning of knowledge as expressed through academic library collections.


“Dr. Black offers us both theoretical and practical reasons why some material, genre and resources don’t ever find their way into academic library collections, the physical and virtual repository of a culture’s intellectual self. Black makes the case that the relationships among the publishing industry, the reviewing industry and the work of library acquisitions represent how knowledge gets presented, disseminated and mediated. By leading us through an overview of twentieth century theories and concepts of ‘the social construction of knowledge,’ she challenges twenty-first century practitioners to understand why we have created (and continue to create) notable gaps in preserving many intellectual and scholarly endeavors, pivotal reflections of the contemporary American experience.” – Prof. Jinx Watson, University of Tennessee

“Using both quantitative and qualitative techniques, Dr. Black provides the reader with evidence of how library collections are compiled and how they do not represent all voices. Those voices are expressed through her portraits of a selection of African-American women writers of fiction and poetry. A quantitative analysis of publishing characteristics, coverage of works of poetry and fiction in review sources, and library holdings brings the punch to her qualitative description of the authors and their works.” – Prof. Carol Tenopir, University of Tennessee

“[This book’s] textured presentation and engaging discussions on literature and philosophy challenge assumptions about the nature of knowledge in the academy and the roles institutions play in providing a safe haven for that knowledge. The power and impact of African-American women writers of poetry and fiction deserve serious attention, and thoughtful, critical reviews in order to insure the community’s access to wider choices, balanced, diverse criticism and intellectual analysis and readership.” – Cheryl Willis Hudson, Just Us Books, Inc.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jinx Watson, University of Tennessee
1. Actors and Context
2. Expressive Culture, Social Power, Knowledge and Knowledge Institutions
3. Publishing African-American Women Writers: “Breaking the First Seal”
4. Reviewing African-American Women Writers — “Making a Book Known”
5. Collecting African-American Women’s Literary Works: The Margin as a Space of Radical Openness
6. Conclusion

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