Maya Angelou
The Iconic Self, 2nd Edition
by Mary Jane Lupton
January 2016, 202pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3758-6
$58, £45, 51€, A80
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3759-3
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Through her work, Maya Angelou traces her life experiences from the Great Depression of 1941 through the tumultuous 1960s.

This book presents the extraordinary life and writings of Maya Angelou. It examines the changing viewpoints in her six autobiographies within the context of women's and African American autobiographies, with specific reference to the slave narrative and to contemporary fiction and film.

Maya Angelou: The Iconic Self examines this iconic artist’s work as an autobiographer, offering an up-to-date assessment of Angelou’s contributions to American literature and to American and international culture. This is the only book to interpret Angelou’s autobiographies as unique experiments in the history of black narrative. It attests to Angelou’s creativity in transforming the typical single-volume autobiography into a six-volume personal and cultural adventure that tells the truth but reads like fiction.

The narratives cover the years from the Great Depression (1941) to the days following the assassinations of Malcolm X (1965) and Martin Luther King (1968), emphasizing Angelou’s roles as mother, daughter, granddaughter, wife, and friend. This revised edition also presents information about Maya Angelou’s funeral and her continuing legacy since her death in 2014. The depth and scope of the book’s observations regarding Angelou’s autobiographies will be of great interest to readers seeking an analysis of the interconnections among Angelou’s writings as well as serve students taking courses in women’s studies or black culture studies.


  • Examines each of Maya Angelou's six autobiographies, enabling readers to understand what growing up black and female in the United States was like
  • Traces the development of black autobiography from its roots in the slave narrative to its presence in contemporary fiction and film
  • Highlights the exclusive 1997 interview between Maya Angelou and the author
  • Examines Maya Angelou's achievements as a poet
  • Discusses all of Angelou's autobiographies regarding their settings, themes, plot development, and other narrative techniques
  • Offers an alternate reading for each autobiography
Mary Jane Lupton, PhD, is professor emeritus at Morgan State University. Her other books include Praeger's Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters and Greenwood's James Welch: A Critical Companion and Maya Angelou: A Critical Companion. Lupton is author of the seminal essay, "Singing the Black Mother: Maya Angelou and Autobiographical Continuity," published in Black American Literature Forum as well as the ground-breaking feminist book, Menstruation & Psychoanalysis. She was the first to receive the Ruthe T. Sheffey Award from Morgan State University in 2001.
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