Legba's Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic by Heather RussellLegba's Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic by Heather Russell

Legba's Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic

byHeather Russell

Paperback | April 15, 2011

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 156 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In Haiti, Papa Legba is the spirit whose permission must be sought to communicate with the spirit world. He stands at and for the crossroads of language, interpretation, and form and is considered to be like the voice of a god. In Legba’s Crossing, Heather Russell examines how writers from the United States and the anglophone Caribbean challenge conventional Western narratives through innovative use, disruption, and reconfiguration of form.

Russell’s in-depth analysis of the work of James Weldon Johnson, Audre Lorde, Michelle Cliff, Earl Lovelace, and John Edgar Wideman is framed in light of the West African aesthetic principle of àshe, a quality ascribed to art that transcends the prescribed boundaries of form. Àshe is linked to the characteristics of improvisation and flexibility that are central to jazz and other art forms. Russell argues that African Atlantic writers self-consciously and self-reflexively manipulate dominant forms that prescribe a certain trajectory of, for example, enlightenment, civilization, or progress. She connects this seemingly postmodern meta-analysis to much older West African philosophy and its African Atlantic iterations, which she calls ?the Legba Principle.?

HEATHER RUSSELL is an assistant professor of English at Florida International University.
Title:Legba's Crossing: Narratology in the African AtlanticFormat:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 9 × 6.03 × 0.55 inPublished:April 15, 2011Publisher:University of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820338796

ISBN - 13:9780820338798


Table of Contents

Introduction: Critical Paradigms in Race, Nation, and Narratology

Part One. Interruptions
Chapter 1. Race, Citizenship, and Form: James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
Chapter 2. The Poetics of Biomythography: The Work of Audre Lorde

Part Two. Disruptions
Chapter 3. Race, Nation and the Imagination: Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven
Chapter 4. Jazz Imaginings of the Nation-State: Earl Lovelace's Salt

Part Three. Eruptions
Chapter 5. Dis-ease, De-formity and Diaspora: John Edgar Wideman's The Cattle Killing

Conclusion: Dialectics of Globalization, Development, and Discourse
Works Cited

Editorial Reviews

Legba's Crossing puts Heather Russell among the best of her generation of scholars, adept in reading both formal literature and its theory and popular culture. Her work demonstrates a fluidity in its critical movements between Caribbean and U.S. African American textualities. Her book dislodges the earlier Black Atlantic discourse from its North Atlantic framing and makes it applicable to a larger African diaspora understanding. Legba, who has been coming through in a variety of other texts, is a prominent articulator of a middle-passage epistemology, which finally gets full presentation here. Above all, Heather Russell demonstrates an ease, confidence, and critical astuteness, particularly in her attention to what she calls the "formal eruptions of the African Atlantic. - Carole Boyce Davies - author of Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones