Uncovers the strategies early African American writers used both to create an African American identity and to make their visions and stories accessible to white readers. Alongside these pioneers of black American literature Zafar juxtaposes some familiar European American Writers. Beginning with Phillis Wheatley's implicit engagements with other colonial era poets, and ending with the ultimately tragic success story of Elizabeth Keckley, ex-slave, seamstress, and confidante to a First Lady, black authors employed virtually every dominant literary genre while cannily manipulating the nature of their presence.
Not to be missed: From Phillis Wheatley to the works of other forerunners of modern black authors, this book traces an unusual history of pioneering black literary achievers. The MidWest Book Review Reviewing We Wear the Mask seven years after it was first published, one is inevitably struck both by how well its argument and individual readings have held up. -- Vince Carreta, University of Maryland Eighteenth Century Book Reviews Online