Authors: Mary; Lupton
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The author and the publisher gratefully acknowledge permission for use of material from Mary Jane Lupton's interview (“Talking with an Icon”) with Maya Angelou on June 16, 1997.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lupton, Mary Jane.
âMaya Angelou : the iconic self / Mary Jane Lupton. â Second edition.
âIncludes bibliographical references and index.
âISBN 978-1-4408-3758-6 (hardback) â ISBN 978-1-4408-3759-3â 1.âAngelou, MayaâCriticism and interpretation.â2.âWomen and literatureâUnited StatesâHistoryâ20th century.â3.âAfrican Americans in literature.âI.âTitle.
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Without the support of the late Dolly A. McPherson, professor of English at Wake Forest University, the first edition of this book,
Maya Angelou: A Critical Companion
, might not have been realized. I first met Professor McPherson at a conference of the Mid-Atlantic Writers' Association held in Baltimore in 1990. Her book,
Order Out of Chaos
, published in that same year, was the first book-length study of Angelou's autobiographical works. McPherson, a long-time personal friend of Angelou's, had supported my work since that conference and had offered assistance on numerous occasions. Through her, Maya Angelou became aware of my interest in her autobiographies. Through her, I was finally successful in arranging an interview.
I am deeply grateful to Maya Angelou for her writings, her vitality, and her kindness. I thank her for being so gracious to me and my husband, Kenneth H. Baldwin, on the afternoon and night of June 16 and the morning of June 17, 1997. My husband, then chair of the English department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, though extremely busy, still had the time to offer substantial support: counting words and citations at several stages in the manuscript, shopping for groceries, dealing with computer repairs, checking the Internet, driving me to Winston-Salem. I am grateful for his love, reassurance, and tolerance, especially during the final three months of the initial project.
To my daughters and their familiesâJulia on the West Coast and Ellen on the EastâI am thankful for the phone calls, the questions, the encouragement. Of the friends who encouraged me in pursuing the field of Black Studies, I am indebted above all to my mentor, Harry L. Jones (1924â1997),
professor emeritus of Morgan State University. I am also grateful to Aimee Wiest who, since we first met in the early 1970s, has always affectionately supported my writing. She was with me during my first exhilarating but brief meeting with Maya Angelou in 1995, following her lecture at Towson State University. Aimee, sensing my hesitation at the prearranged interview, literally pushed me into Angelou's waiting limousine.
Many friends, colleagues, and graduate students at Morgan State University contributed to this project, among them John Clarke, Eugenia Collier, Shirley Meckler, Jennifer Kreshtool, Linda Meyers, Margaret Reid, Valerie Sedlak, Ella Stevens, Minnie Washington, and Elaine Tsubota. I am also grateful to my students in English 102, who for almost a decade had been writing their research papers on
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
, sharing their insights and anger and forcing me to be clear about my assumptions.
I wish to acknowledge the following women from North Carolina: Mildred Garris and Alma M. Golden of Dr. Angelou's office at Wake Forest University; Rose Johnson, who welcomed Ken and me when we visited her aunt, Maya Angelou; Sharon E. Snow, curator at the Wake Forest Library; and Joyce Ford.
I am indebted to Dr. Earl Richardson, past president of Morgan State University, for having granted me a sabbatical for the fall semester of 1997 so that I could complete my study of Angelou's autobiographies. I wish also to thank Kathleen Gregory Klein, the editor of the Greenwood Critical Companion Series.
Maya Angelou: A Critical Companion
, initially published in 1998, was part of that series, which has since been discontinued.
I retired from Morgan State University in 2001.
Maya Angelou: The Iconic Self
was written in the resort town of Cape May, New Jersey, a beautiful location but far from the support of an academic community. I have made numerous changes in this expanded revision, from a few overlooked errors in spelling, punctuation, and dates to major additions to the text in order to include Maya Angelou's literary and cultural contributions since 1998.
Maya Angelou: The Iconic Self
retains the structure of the original: two introductory chapters followed by individual chapters on each of the autobiographies. Each of the individual discussions ends with an alternative reading. The new edition is more attentive to her poetry. There is an added chapter about the sixth autobiography as well as a greatly expanded bibliography.
The Iconic Self
also takes into account the enormous public response to her death.
Fortunately, I was able to rely on the skills, talents, and encouragement of my scholarly family as I wrote this second edition. My daughter Ellen Lupton is director of the MFA program in Graphic Design at the Maryland
Institute of Art in Baltimore and Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. Ellen worked closely with me on June 11, 2015, as we viewed the Maya Angelou Archives at the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She has also offered invaluable technical assistance.
My daughter Julia Reinhard Lupton, associate dean of research, School of Humanities, the University of California, Irvine, worked diligently with me on downloading, file-saving, electronic editing, and other technical problems that I had not encountered while writing the first edition. She served as the liaison between me and my editor at Greenwood/CLIO, Kimberly Kennedy-White. Through their combined help I was able to acquire a Word document of the first edition from which I could make the necessary additions and revisions.
Throughout this writing my husband, Kenneth H. Baldwin, has listened to my interpretations, done extensive proofreading, searched the Internet, offered pertinent criticism, suggested revisions, and entertained me with his amazing wit. When he retired from his position as chair of the English department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2006, I jokingly provided him with a scholarship to attend real estate school. He soon became qualified as an instructor and began teaching courses, primarily to brokers. Eventually he founded the Cape Atlantic School of Real Estate in Seaville, New Jersey, where his students affectionately call him “Doc.”
I thank Steven Fullwood, assistant curator of the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, for his invaluable assistance prior to my visit to the Schomburg Center on June 11, 2015. During our visit his staff worked tirelessly in providing box after box of papers, drafts, and documents relevant to Maya Angelou's life and writing.
I thank Dolan Hubbard, my former chair at Morgan State University, and Carolyn Maun, director of Graduate Studies in English at Wayne State University, for putting me in touch with Sandra Shannon, editor of the
College Language Association Journal
. Professor Shannon personally invited me to contribute an essay on Angelou's poetry for a commemorative issue on Maya Angelou, now in press. Cheryl Wall, guest editor of the Special Issue on Angelou, subsequently invited me to read a paper on Angelou's poetry at the CLA conference in Dallas in April 2015.
I am deeply indebted to Kim Kennedy White, senior acquisitions editor, American Mosaic, ABC-CLIO, for having immediately responded to my query about a possible second edition of
Maya Angelou: A Critical
. I sent her a proposal, which she submitted to the advisory board. The board acted quickly and favorably, granting me a very reasonable amount of time to complete the project.
I thank Victoria Allen, the widow of Julian Allen, for granting permission to use her husband's illustration of Maya Angelou for the cover of this book. I thank my brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Carol Ann Hohman, for having gifted me with Maya Angelou's cookbook
Halleluljah! The Welcome Table
on Christmas Eve, 2004. I thank Caroline Maun for the Angelou wind chimes and Charlotte Todd for the Maya Angelou greeting card. I thank my friends from Baltimore, and most particularly Jo-Ann Pilardi, for sending me information on Maya Angelou and for encouraging me in this project.
Finally, I thank my friends in Cape May (especially Penny and Dale Hardin and Joan Thomas) and my friends at Macedonia Baptist Church (especially Lois Smith, Florence Carter, Jackie and Larry Hogan, Peggy Ose, and Pastor Kathy Smallwood Johnson) for their support and tolerance.