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The Redemptive SelfStories Americans Live By$
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Dan P. McAdams

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.001.0001

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(p.171) Seven BLACK (AND WHITE)
The Redemptive Self

Dan P. McAdams

Oxford University Press

Bringing together psychological research on life stories and generativity in African-American men and women with a reading of African-American autobiographies, folk tales, and 19th century slave narratives, this chapter examines the relationships between race, generativity, and narrative identity in American life. Like their Euro-American counterparts, highly generative African-American adults, such as Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman, tend to construct highly redemptive life narratives. Their life stories, however, tend to draw from a rich storehouse of images and tropes favored in African-American psycho-literary traditions, stories about life that privilege the discourse of personal (and societal) liberation and underscore such themes as “early danger” and the role of a moral “opponent”.

Keywords:   W. E. B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk, race, Martin Luther King Jr, slave narratives, Henry Louis Gates Jr, African-American identity, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman

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