Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition



Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition

This edition

"Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition" . Ed. Patricia Liggins Hill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. xxxviii+2,039 pp.+1 sound disc (comp. Robert H. Cataliotti).

Online access

Table of contents

Contents available in WorldCat.

Reviews and notices of anthology

• Eichelberger, Julia. "'Acts of Love': Two Anthologies of African American Literature." "Journal of Southern Culture" 53.1 (1999-2000): 111-29.
• Hubbard, Dolan. Rev. of "The Norton Anthology of African American Literature" and of "Call and Response". "Nineteenth-Century Contexts" 22.2 (2000): 265-69.
• Prettyman, Alfred E. "Ways to African American Literature." "Crosscurrents" (Spring 1998). Web .
"It is difficult to choose between these anthologies ["Call and Response" and the "Norton Anthology of African American Literature"]. Each has the complete text of Frederick Douglass's"Narrative,"a complete novel by Toni Morrison—"Sula" (Norton),"The Bluest Eye"(Riverside)—and a complete play by August Wilson—"Joe Turner's Come and Gone"(Riverside) and"Fences"(Norton). The Norton volume also has complete plays by Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins and Adrienne Kennedy, as well as the full texts of W.E.B. DuBois's"The Souls of Black Folk", Jean Toomer's"Cane"and James Weldon Johnson's"The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man."Both anthologies contain Baldwin's"Sonny'sBlues."
"Each volume thoroughly covers the vernacular tradition, from spirituals and sermons to rap. The Riverside anthology includes contemporary folktales as well, and a unique section on "Improvisations: Theme and Variation, Call and Response, Performance Styles, Rhythms and Melodic Structures." The books also have what are to me oddities: only one poem by Jayne Cortez in the Norton anthology, for example, and no poems by Clarence Major in the Riverside."
The CD disc accompanying "Call and Response" "excels in its inclusion of the spoken word, with readings by Claude McKay, Arna Bontemps reading Lucy Terry's only known poem 'Bars Fight,' Margaret Walker reading James Weldon Johnson's 'Go Down Death,' Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, and Ruby Dee recreating Sojourner Truth, Dorothy Washington reading Phillis Wheatley, Ossie Davis recreating Frederick Douglass, and the voice of Booker T. Washington delivering a portion of his famous 'Atlanta Exposition Address.'"
"Hill and her editors draw from "three motifs unique to the African American experience. The first is the distinct African and African American antiphonal pattern of call and response. . . Not only do we present the pattern as it is most often recognized, that is black sermon, song, and speech, but we use it structurally. . . . in each section of the volume to show the written literature answering the call of the folk culture. . . . and thematically. . . . to feature African Americans throughout American history raising important socio-political issues and the responses to those issues either by their contemporaries or heirs in succeeding generations." Their second motif is "the journey of African American people toward freedom, justice, and social equality" and the third, turning points, overlays the call and response pattern and black musical idiom. They also provide the reader with a rich cultural and historical context, stretching from 1619 to the present" (Prettyman 1998).

Commentary on anthology

• This anthology began as a project, to be published by McGraw-Hill, with Patricia Liggins Hill as general editor, and with "R. Baxter Miller, Trudier Harris, Bernard Bell, William J. Harris, and Sondra O'Neale as section editors" (Kinnamon 1997: 465).

Cited in

Kinnamon 1997: 465 (mentioned as forthcoming)]

Item Number


Item sets