Bebe Moore Campbell (1950–2006)

Mae G. Henderson

in Speaking in Tongues and Dancing Diaspora

Published in print June 2014 | ISBN: 9780195116595
Published online August 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199375219 | DOI:

Series: Race and American Culture

Bebe Moore Campbell (1950–2006)

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This chapter offers a memorial retrospective of novelist Bebe Moore Campbell, drawing on the parallels between the author’s and the critic’s common backgrounds and experiences. In novels such as Your Blues Ain’t Mine, Singing in the Comeback Choir, Brothers and Sisters, What You Owe Me, and 72-Hour Hold, Campbell’s subject, broadly speaking, is the modern condition and the human condition—not universalized and flattened out, but read through the complex lenses of race, gender, and class, as these categories intersect to shape individual lives in a society dominated by corporate, mass, and popular culture. Campbell provides what the great cultural critic Kenneth Burke describes as “literature as equipment for living.” Campbell’s novels address the social and psychic challenges and conflicts facing those who seek to live principled and accountable lives, informed by a sense of social justice and an ethic of care.

Keywords: Mae G. Henderson; Bebe Moore Campbell; Kenneth Burke; “literature as equipment for living”; Your Blues Ain’t Mine; Singing in the Comeback Choir; Brothers and Sisters; What You Owe Me; 72-Hour Hold

Chapter.  2741 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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