The question of how we do critical race studies today in a post–identity politics academy drives a number of recent innovative and provocative books by Alisha Gaines, Jennifer Glaser, Stephanie Li, and Cassander L. Smith. What works get put into an African American or Jewish canon? What methods do we use to analyze them? What work can literature and its empathetic identifications do as critical interventions? Although these monographs are built around important new themes, insightful close readings, or an expanded canon, they offer at their core important field reassessments that extend and reinvent the processes by which we determine what critical race studies is and how we do it. Li and Smith press beyond restrictive literary historical projects that focus on recovering narrowly defined authentic black voices and political consciousnesses to reexamine what is meant by African American literature. Although focused...

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