Black Print Unbound explores the development of the Christian Recorder during and just after the American Civil War. As a study of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s official newspaper and so of a periodical of national reach among free African Americans, Black Print Unbound is simultaneously a massive recovery of a publication by African Americans for African Americans, a consideration of the nexus of African Americanist inquiry and print culture studies, and an intervention in the study of literatures of the Civil War, faith communities, and periodicals. Black Print Unbound thus offers a case study for understanding how African Americans (including diverse African American women) inserted themselves in an often-hostile American print culture in the midst of the most complex conflict the young nation had yet seen, and so calls for a significant rewriting of our senses of American literary history.
“Black Print Unbound far exceeds the pages of the printed word. Gardner has meticulously reconstituted a textured history of the Christian Recorder that provides deep insight into nineteenth-century African American literary culture–writers and readers, authorship, literary form and genre–yet also opens a wide window onto black society and activism nationwide. His scholarship is impeccable, the book richly rewarding.”–Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.