Readers are often surprised to learn that black writing in Canada is over two centuries old. Ranging from letters, editorials, sermons, and slave narratives to contemporary novels, plays, poetry, and non-fiction, black Canadian writing represents a rich body of literary and cultural achievement. The Black Atlantic Reconsidered is the first comprehensive work to explore black Canadian literature from its beginnings to the present in the broader context of the black Atlantic world. Winfried Siemerling traces the evolution of black Canadian witnessing and writing from slave testimony in New France and the 1783 "Book of Negroes" through the work of contemporary black Canadian writers including George Elliott Clarke, Austin Clarke, Dionne Brand, David Chariandy, Wayde Compton, Esi Edugyan, Marlene NourbeSe Philip, and Lawrence Hill. Arguing that black writing in Canada is deeply imbricated in a historic transnational network, Siemerling explores the powerful presence of black Canadian history, slavery, and the Underground Railroad, and the black diaspora in the work of these authors. Individual chapters examine the literature that has emerged from Quebec, Nova Scotia, the Prairies, and British Columbia, with attention to writing in both English and French. A major survey of black writing and cultural production, The Black Atlantic Reconsidered brings into focus important works that shed light not only on Canada's literature and history, but on the transatlantic black diaspora and modernity.
"Winfried Siemerling's latest book, The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History and the Presence of the Past (2015), offers a thorough re-examination of Black Canadian writing and cultural studies, relatively new fields of study if compared with the well-established traditions of the African American canon and postcolonial literatures from Africa and the Caribbean. Siemerling's well researched and elegantly written book contributes to reverse the critical neglect of this body of literature both in diasporic studies – such as Paul Gilroy's influential The Black Atlantic (1993)– and in Canada, until the groundbreaking research of scholars such as George Elliott Clarke." Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry
“The Black Atlantic Reconsidered offers a meticulously researched, contextualized and engaging exploration of Black Canadian writing. A must-read for any person who desires a comprehensive meditation on Black Canadian writing past and present. Winfried Siemerling's thorough and thoughtful book helps to fill a mighty void, and will open the door to more conversations about one of Canada’s most vital, yet understudied literary communities.” Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes
“This powerfully rendered text brings us closer to a definitive understanding of the entire "circum-Atlantic network" in its critical interrogation of the Canadian scene-its histories, cultures, and literatures; routed through the times and spaces of Canada, we come upon the black Atlantic once again as a reconfigured repertoire of actual and archival resources that elaborate upon and expand our identitarian signatures. Mining the deep structures of Canadian historiographies, Siemerling lovingly and masterfully provides a prehensile reading of the virtually inexhaustible richness of African Canadian literary (and musical) culture-its past as well as its quite stunning contemporaneity.” Hortense Spillers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor, Vanderbilt University
"A considerable historical undertaking that reconsiders Canada’s place in the Black Atlantic. [It] deepens our understanding of Black writing and radical thinking within a Canadian space that belongs to a larger historic transatlantic nexus." Canadian Literature
“Winfried Siemerling’s The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History, and the Presence of the Past is a ground-breaking and consequential volume. It examines black Canadian writing in both English and French from the early eighteenth century to the present, contextualizing it vis-à-vis the nation-state and the transnational black Atlantic. Poised to galvanize scholarly and classroom conversations on this understudied corpus, Siemerling’s book, which analyzes black Canadian literary representations of history, is history-making in its own right.” Gabrielle Roy Prize jury
"Winfried Siemerling has produced a necessary milestone for Black Canadian studies and, possibly, has written his magnum opus. This extensive study makes several crucial contributions to Black Canadian literary and cultural studies." Amerikastudien / American Studies