Essaying in the Digital Age
This chapter considers the status of the essay in the twenty-first century as it shifts its medium from print to digital. It is argued that given the ability for the essay to speak to moments of political and social crisis, comment on and define aesthetic debates, and reflect on the meaning of individual and collective identities, it remains a crucial genre for twenty-first century African American authors. Through analyzing the work of Brittney Cooper and Ta-Nehisi Coates amongst others, this chapter illustrates how black essayists continue to work through the subject of freedom and express the will to adorn. Deploying the vernacular process, one inflected with a hip-hop beat, these authors blur the line between the digital and print, and continue to highlight the centrality of the essay to the African American literary tradition.
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