The Black Book Project: Why is it important?

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Since the study/teaching of black literature is very often
dictated by what is current or what authors will attract students to a course, most
of what we know about black fiction is based on a very small sample of
texts.  Our objective is to learn what this
larger body of mostly non-canonical texts can tell us that we don’t know and
how this knowledge alters current conceptions about black literature. Text
analysis has been slow to come to black writing, but is growing. What we hope
to achieve through this project is to provide the context for not only thinking
about but also documenting continuity and change, tradition and innovation
within African American fiction, by indexing novels according to selected
features, such as word choice, geographic location, character names, narrative
mode, for example.