On first look, it may seem that the primary connection between Lloyd Pratt’s The Strangers Book and Robert Levine’s The Lives of Frederick Douglass is their attention to the writings of Frederick Douglass, but there is a deeper conceptual relation connecting the two that extends beyond their chosen figures and texts, and to a crucial endeavor of literary criticism and history more broadly. Pratt’s method of reading “human becoming” (3) through a theory of “strangerhood” is in many ways Levine’s literary-critical practice in reading the dynamism of Douglass’s unceasing processes of becoming through his work as a “serial autobiographer” (187). Individually, these books make important and fresh contributions to the study of African American literature, rereading the works of the canonical Douglass and in Pratt’s instance also turning our attention to lesser-known African American francophone poetry. Taken together, The Strangers Book and...

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