Tag Archives: postmodernism

It’s a beastly rough crowd I run with: theory and the “new university”

Contemporary graduate students—particularly in literature—are indeed being trained in “theory.” But they’re likely learning it in a class taught by a part-time or non-tenure-track faculty member, unless they are at one of the elite institutions which house the leading lights of theory—the profession’s “stars.” The work of the previous generation of activists (many of them also theorists) has served as a wedge to open the humanities—and, particularly, the literary profession—to previously underserved groups, benefiting those who work in feminist studies, ethnic studies, and post-colonial studies a great deal, while shaking the previously solid foundations of the traditional world of mostly white, mostly male humanities scholars.

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The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: African American Critical Theory and Cyberculture

The god Ifa writes the texts, and the god Esu translates them, and it is exactly this translator-god who has metamorphosed into the Trickster figure of contemporary African-American culture. That the Trickster inhabits the Net is undeniable—he is, in fact, the essence of the Net. Gates’ Trickster/Signifying Monkey (and it’s no accident that African-Americans were using “signify” as a verb long before the postmodernists picked it up) embodies various black rhetorical tropes, including “marking, loud-talking, testifying, calling out (of one’s name), sounding, rapping, playing the dozens, and so on.”

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