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Mitch Kachun book is choice of Choice magazine

Jan. 11, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A "rediscovered" early African-American novel co-edited by a Western Michigan University historian has been selected as a 2007 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine.

"The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride," by Julia C. Collins, was recognized in the humanities/language and literature category. The novel, published in October 2006 by Oxford University Press, is a republication of the work of a 19th-century African-American woman that was edited by Dr. Mitch Kachun, WMU associate professor of history, and Dr. William L. Andrews, a literary scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The scholars believe the book is the first novel ever published by an African-American woman and, as such, is key to understanding a literary tradition developed by a newly freed people after the Civil War. Collins' story, serialized in a national newspaper in 1865, was not finished at the time of her death in November 1865. The serials did, however, receive an avid following among readers of the Christian Recorder, a national newspaper published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"Andrews and Kachun combine their respective expertise to offer a useful introduction that places the novel in context and defines its originality," stated the Choice magazine review. "The first genre to be published in book form, this text enlightens today's reader in matters of representations of race, African-American women's authorial venues, and the readership of newspapers during Reconstruction. The editing is careful and clear."

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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