black woman and a white man can marry
for love and settle in the United States and
live happily,” he said.
The theme of interracial marriage is
fundamental to the story, Andrews said.
Collins lets the marriage take place in
1865, when the idea was controversial.
“Most Americans couldn’t conceive of
such things, even in fiction.”
Andrews sees Collins as a pioneer. She
had to invent herself and her own writing.
She wanted to inspire readers to believe in
a future better than the past.
“I would want people to read these
[African-American] writers and see them
as the inspiration that they wanted to be
themselves to the people in their own
time,” he said.
The Curse of Caste originally was written in 31 chapters as part of a series for
The Christian Recorder, a publication of the
African Methodist Episcopal Church, a
major institution in the black community
Andrews and his co-editor worked to
provide a reliable version of the text. He
also wrote an introduction to the novel to
try to give readers some insight into what
Collins was thinking. And because The
Curse of Caste is unfinished, Andrews
wrote two endings for the piece: a happy
ending and a tragic one. The reader gets to
choose between them.
But Andrews has had to fight for The
Curse of Caste’s title as “first.” Harvard
University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.
contends Our Nig by Harriet Wilson, published in 1859, deserves that role in literary
Andrews says Our Nig is a work of
autobiography, following closely the events
in Wilson’s life, and therefore cannot be
called fiction. The Curse of Caste, on the
other hand, is written entirely from
Collins’ imagination, making it, he says, the
first work of fiction written by a black
Andrews is series editor of the North
American Slave Narratives, an online project that rescued all existing autobiographical narratives of fugitives and former slaves
up to 1920 from their crumbling forms by
putting them online.
He has written, studied, published and
taught literature on the black side of the
color line at universities across the country: in Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas, at Stanford
and at Carolina.
The study has claimed him, he said.
“In the early 1970s, when I got my first
job, there were very few people at the
time who thought there was any black
American literature.” He came to Carolina’s faculty in 1996, when the University was building a cohort of important
African-American literature scholars.
“I think UNC’s role in the South has
been for many decades to be a leader in
looking at the history and the culture of
the people of the South in a wide lens —
a lens that goes across ethnicities,” he said.
Andrews said his focus on African-American literature was not planned. They
didn’t offer the classes at Davidson College, where he got his undergraduate
degree. Jackson’s class was his first introduction to the history of black America
from the standpoint of important black
American leaders. How did they grow up?
What did they think about? How did they
assume leadership in the most important
realm of civil rights since 1865?
“As a Southerner, a white Southerner
who grew up in the segregated South, it
was tremendously informative,” he said. “It
— Laura Oleniacz
Cataloochee: A Novel (Random House,
2007) by Wayne Caldwell ’ 69. The author,
who won the Review’s fiction contest in
1999, chronicles three families in western
North Carolina as the Civil War ends.
Ending Poverty in America: How to
Restore the American Dream (The New
Press, 2007) edited by John R. Edwards ’ 77
(JD), Marion Crane and Arne L. Kalleberg.
The ideas of academics, journalists, neighborhood organizers and business leaders,
published in conjunction with the Center
on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC.
Kalleberg is a sociology professor at UNC.
The Foundation: A Great American Secret
(Public Affairs, 2007) by Joel Fleishman
’ 55. Insight and advice on what foundations can do to become more effective in
their missions and make more people
familiar with their work.
Le Grasse Escapade: A Novel, the Grasse
Caper (Vantage Press, 2006) by Cyrus D.
Hogue Jr. ’ 42. A French family seeks refuge
in North Africa from invading German
troops in World War II, where an American
Air Force officer devises a plan to
return their young daughter to
France and to recover the family’s hidden assets.
Ham Radio’s Technical Culture
(The MIT Press, 2007) by Kris-ten Haring ’ 95. Describes the
evolution of ham radio culture
— hundreds of thousands of tinkerers who built and operated
two-way radios and who thrived
on fraternal interaction.
Home: The Blueprints of Our
Lives (Collins, 2006) edited by
John R. Edwards ’ 77 (JD). A collection of 57 short essays on the
meaning and images of home,
some of the authors well known,
The New Brothers Grimm and
their Left Behind Fairy Tales (Mercer University Press, 2006) by David T. Morgan
’ 64. In this critical review of the popular
Left Behind series, the author suggests that
the theological premises set forth in the
series are at best dubious — at worst, theo-
logical snake oil.
The Race Beat: The Press, the
Civil Rights Struggle, and the
Awakening of a Nation (Alfred A.
Knopf, 2006) by Gene Roberts
’ 54 and Hank Klibanoff. A
chronicle of how Americans
awakened to the racial indignities
and injustice of the South after
World War II.
seeing beyond sight: photo-
graphs by blind teenagers (Chroni-
cle Books, 2007) by Tony Deifell
’ 91. Photographs and commen-
tary gathered in five years spent
teaching blind teens to take pho-
Southern Modernist: Arthur
Raper from the New Deal to the
Cold War (Louisiana State University Press, 2006) by Louis Mazzari. The
work of Raper, one of the most important
figures in the Southern regionalist movement in the New Deal era and a student
of Howard Odum at Carolina who graduated in 1924.