The Collected Works of Jupiter Hammon

  • Author(s): May, Cedrick
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2017-09-10
  • Status: Active
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“This text will become the definitive collection of Hammon’s worknot only because of the archival finds that Cedrick May features but also because of his careful and attentive reconstruction of Hammon’s historical, political, social, and religious contexts.”—Katy Chiles, author of Transformable Race: Surprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America

“This volume, which reflects those discoveries about the Hammon’s life and work that have taken place since Ransom’s earlier collection, will enable scholars, instructors, students, and other interested readers ready to access the most up-to-date assessment and presentation of this pioneering African American author’s body of work.”—Ajuan Mance, editor of Before Harlem: An Anthology of African American Literature from the Long Nineteenth Century

Cedrick May’s The Collected Works of Jupiter Hammon offers a complete look at the literary achievements of one of the founders of African American literature. Born into slavery on the Lloyd plantation in 1711, Jupiter Hammon became the first African American writer to be published in the present-day United States at the age of forty-nine. It has been decades since a collection of Hammon’s work has appeared, and May’s intensive research has yielded two additional poems, adding new layers to his works and life that, until now, have gone unexplored.

The most comprehensive volume on Hammon’s works to date, The Collected Works of Jupiter Hammon carefully reconstructs the historical, political, social, and religious contexts that shaped his essays and poems throughout the late eighteenth century. This attentive reconstruction, which takes full account of Hammon’s prose works as well as his more well-known poetry, gives readers provides a radical re-reading of Hammon as a much more complex and intellectually curious commentator on his historical and political period, while providing ample evidence of his literary importance and artistic integrity. Cedrick May’s fresh presentation and insightful reevaluation of Hammon’s life and writings will change the way Hammon is studied and appreciated among literary scholars and readers alike. This edition will become the definitive one for many years to come.

CEDRICK MAY is Professor of English & Digital Arts at The University of Texas at Arlington. He is the author of Evangelism and Resistance in the Black Atlantic, 1760–1835 (2008). His articles and essays have appeared in African American ReviewEAL: Early American Literature,  and A History of African American Autobiography (2021).