Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals

Overview

One of the most controversial books to come out of the academy in the last fifteen years is Martin Bernal's Black Athena. It has been a true cause celebre. Afrocentrists have both praised the book and claimed that Bernal stole from the work of black scholars to create his study of the Afroasiastic roots of classical civilization. Classicists feel passionately about what they perceive as an attack from an outsider on the origins not only of ancient Greece but of their own discipline. It seems that everyone has ...
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Overview

One of the most controversial books to come out of the academy in the last fifteen years is Martin Bernal's Black Athena. It has been a true cause celebre. Afrocentrists have both praised the book and claimed that Bernal stole from the work of black scholars to create his study of the Afroasiastic roots of classical civilization. Classicists feel passionately about what they perceive as an attack from an outsider on the origins not only of ancient Greece but of their own discipline. It seems that everyone has something to say about the book; the question is how many really understand it. In Heresy in the University, Jacques Berlinerblau provides an exegesis of the contents of Black Athena, making it accessible to a wider audience. As he clarifies and restates Bernal's opus, Berlinerblau identifies Bernal's flaws in reasoning and gaps in evidence. He cuts to the heart of Bernal's prose, singling out the key points of Bernal's argument, explaining and arranging them in a cogent manner. Berlinerblau addresses the critics' really important objections, including his own, and links each of them to the appropriate substantive argument in Black Athena. He goes beyond simple summary and exposition to present the underlying --stated and unstated--agendas of Bernal and his critics. Ultimately, he exposes both sides and asks what the flawed reasoning from all concerned reveals about the stakes in this key academic dispute and what that, in turn, says about the modern academy. Jacques Berlinerblau is an assistant professor and director of Judaic studies at Hofstra University.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Berlinerblau (Judaic studies, Hofstra U.) explores the reactions<-- >widely divergent but mostly intense<-->to Martin Bernal's 1987 publication of the first volume of In light of classicist reacting to an outsider's intrusion into their field and Afrocentrist accusation of stealing the material from black scholars, he considers the question of intellectual responsibility during an age of cultural warfare. He also elucidates the contents of the book itself. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813525877
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Pages: 304

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Epistemological Canyons: The Anomic Academy 1
Pt. 1 The Historical Argument
1 The Ancient Model: Hard Moderns versus Idiosyncratic Ancient 23
2 The Revised Ancient Model: The Heretic's Cocktail 39
3 The Aryan Models 59
Pt. 2 The Sociological Argument
4 Atmospheric Determinism 77
5 The Antinomies of Martin Bernal 93
6 A "Total Contestation" of the Research University: "Beware the Nonspecialist" 110
Pt. 3 Black Athena and the Culture Wars
7 The Academic Elvis 133
8 Reconfiguring the Ancient Egyptians: Bernal's Strategic Reading 147
9 Contentious Communities: "Blacks and Jews" and Black Athens 162
Conclusion. We Scholars: Heresy in the University/ Intellectual Responsibility/Passionate Ambivalence 178
Notes 197
Bibliography 243
Index 276
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