Collection edited by Yogita Goyal broadens research on African American literature

Published: April 10, 2024
Portrait of Yogita Goyal and cover of her edited volumeYogita Goyal: “My hope is that readers appreciate the enormous vitality of the field.” (Portrait: UCLA)

Marta Wallien | April 10, 2024

Although contemporary African American writing has evolved in remarkable fashion within the last five decades, scholarship on the subject remains sparse. A new essay collection edited by UCLA professor Yogita Goyal, “The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary African American Literature,” aims to widen its discourse.

“I’ve always been struck by how difficult it is — both for the classroom and for our own research — to find extensive scholarship on the subject. We tend to favor research on historically more distant eras,” said Goyal, a professor of English and African American studies. “I wanted to put together a resource for those of us who work in contemporary African American literature, which I define as post-1975 for this volume, as the Black Arts Movement was waning, and new forms of writing were coming into view.”

Goyal’s previous essay collection for Cambridge University Press, “The Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature,” centered on the global shift American literary studies took within the last century. Goyal explained that the 17 essays in this new book highlight the shift taking place within Black studies and the need for further research.

“My hope is that readers appreciate the enormous vitality of the field. There has been another cultural renaissance of sorts in the last few decades in Black studies and all the essays in the volume are alive to the vibrancy of the debates about racial justice, the afterlife of slavery, literary experimentation and play, and attention to new audiences and critical methods.”