Stephane Robolin

Grounds of Engagement

Apartheid-Era African American and South African Writing

University of Illinois Press 2015

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in African StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network November 30, 2017 Annette Joseph-Gabriel

Writers have long created networks and connections by exchanging letters or writing back to one another in their poetry and fiction. Letters between Ernest...

Writers have long created networks and connections by exchanging letters or writing back to one another in their poetry and fiction. Letters between Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, attest to the rich world of intellectual exchange beyond the pages of published works. In Grounds of Engagement: Apartheid-Era African American and South African Writing (University of Illinois Press, 2015), Stephane Robolin examines the conversations between writers on spatial terms. Paying attention to the transnational crossings and circulations of African American and South African writers through their travels, correspondence and published works, Robolin’s study uncovers the metaphoric and sometimes quite literal grounds on which authors in different spaces contested the similar realities of racism and segregation that they experienced in South Africa and the United States. This study weaves together the voices of Langston Hughes, Richard Rive, Peter Abrahams, Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Bessie Head and others in a larger narrative about the spatial dimensions of Black transnationalism in the twentieth century.

Stephane Robolin is an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University where he also directs the Center for African Studies. He teaches courses in African Literature, African Diaspora Studies and Postcolonial Literature and Theory.


Annette Joseph-Gabriel is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her forthcoming book, Decolonial Citizenship: Black Women’s Resistance in the Francophone World, examines Caribbean and African women’s literary and political contributions to anti-colonial movements.

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