This book examines significant aspects of President Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father" both in relation to the African American literary tradition and to the context of the relevant historical and cultural productions that inform it. From its earliest roots in slave narrative, the autobiographical memoir has been one of the glories of African American literature, negotiating the intersection of race and identity along the fault line of color. Yet this central and historic impulse toward self-writing also connects black writers to a larger national context, for American writers have continually redefined and argued what it means to be an American. Written fifteen years before his rise to the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father" is an important literary and cultural contribution to this national conversation. Although his memoir has received wide attention in the popular press, that interest has been largely political and personal rather than scholarly.
Using a variety of critical approaches including critical race theory, feminism, Lacanian psychology, queer studies, rhetoric, adaptive studies, and intertextual analysis, the essays in this collection make significant contributions, not only to a critical understanding of what will surely take its place as a canonical text of African American autobiography, but also to the current cultural dialogue on race and identity in America.