ABSTRACT

This essay analyzes the 1817 Doctrines and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, published by Richard Allen and Jacob Tapsico, to argue for the inclusion of church disciplines in American literary anthologies. Such anthologies currently privilege the genres of life writing and poetry when selecting African American literature. In contrast to this emphasis on works by a single author, the Doctrines and Discipline foregrounds a vibrant African American print culture, practices of collaborative authorship, and coalition-building in the early American republic. A close reading of the AME Doctrines and Discipline demonstrates both the political and the literary stakes of church disciplines. This particular church discipline enacts a revolutionary break with white institutions and constructs a new black national affiliation, and it also lays the foundation for black literary production through much of the nineteenth century.

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