Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora

Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora

by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
     
 

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Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Tradition and the Black Atlantic is both a vibrant romp down the rabbit hole of cultural studies and an examination of the discipline’s roots and role in contemporary thought. In this conversational tour through the halls of theory, Gates leaps from Richard Wright to Spike Lee, from Pat Buchanan to Frantz Fanon, and

Overview

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Tradition and the Black Atlantic is both a vibrant romp down the rabbit hole of cultural studies and an examination of the discipline’s roots and role in contemporary thought. In this conversational tour through the halls of theory, Gates leaps from Richard Wright to Spike Lee, from Pat Buchanan to Frantz Fanon, and ultimately to the source of anticolonialist thought: the unlikely figure of Edmund Burke.

Throughout Tradition and the Black Atlantic, Gates shows that the culture wars have presented us with a surfeit of either/ors—tradition versus modernity; Eurocentrism versus Afrocentricism. Pointing us away from these facile dichotomies, Gates deftly combines rigorous scholarship with humor, looking back to the roots of cultural studies in order to map out its future course.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Prolific author, editor, host of PBS's Faces of America, and the Harvard professor who was arrested (mistakenly) for breaking into his own Cambridge home, Gates is probably the most famous professor in the U.S. While asserting that "accounts of the culture wars the stuff of undergraduate essays in English departments and Ph.D. theses," Gates offers four essays devoted to those wars as experienced in Britain's Black Arts Movement and at the advent of "cultural studies" in American universities. Readers accustomed to abstruse theory may find Gates's itinerary through contemporary colonial discourse theory and his assessment of "Spivak's critique of Benita Parry's critique of Abdul JamMohamed's critique of Homi Bhaba's critique of Edward Said's critique of colonial discourse" interesting, but this is definitely a book for the in-crowd--readers of Edmund Burke and those with some historical sense of Warren Hastings's trial might perk up.. In concluding this disordered farrago, Gates offers "two cheers for multiculturalism" and "an appeal for pluralism…of a singularly banal and uninspiring variety." A major disappointment from a major scholar. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

W. J. T. Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, and editor of Critical Theory
“[Stone] has a terrific eye for detail, bringing to life everything from the ruins of Germany to Ronald Reagan’s White House with a wonderfully waspish turn of phrase…. He captures well the West’s weakness, as well as the seemingly powerful challenge that eastern-style socialism posed to Western freedom.”

Cornel West, Princeton University
“Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a towering man of letters in American life. He also is a seminal literary theorist whose work in African-American Studies has been profound and pioneering. In this book, he engages the Enlightenment, Frantz Fanon and the quests for identity in a vintage Gates manner: brilliant, witty and free thinking!”

Paul Gilroy, Anthony Giddens Professor of Social Theory, London School of Economics and Political Science
“The colossus of critical theory has been sedated for a decade by securitocracy. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wants to re-awaken it. His lucidity, acuity and intellectually generosity conjure up fundamental issues that will help to settle the fate of Africa’s diasporas. Cultural Studies acquires a worldly history and we encounter interpretations of twentieth-century, black politics and letters that remain as startling as they are novel. Gates’ luminous provocations and insights have won a new urgency as the politics of culture assumes neocolonial as well as postcolonial patterns.”

Arnold Rampersad, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
“Bringing impeccable credentials to the persistently vital debate about cultural studies, Professor Gates has written a brilliant book that is as subtle and erudite as it is accessible to a wide range of readers. He consistently displays a sure grasp of the theoretical complexities of this controversial subject. At the same time, his arguments are leavened by the generosity of spirit and abundant good humor that have graced his immense body of work over the years.”

Kobena Mercer, author of Welcome to the Jungle
“Mapping the contested concept of culture in diasporic, post-colonial and multicultural spaces, Henry Louis Gates Jr. conveys far-reaching insights in a piquant style that never fails to stimulate and provoke. What results is a critical cosmopolitanism that puts him at the heart of humanist inquiry in an era of global change.”

Anthony Appiah, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy & the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
“Only Henry Louis Gates, Jr. could set sail from Edmund Burke's critique of imperialism in the 1790s, navigate through the turbulent culture wars of the 1990s, and find safe harbor in the new millennium with a re-imagined conception of race and identity.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465022632
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/24/2010
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
216
File size:
232 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University. The author of numerous books, including the American Book Award–winning The Signifying Monkey, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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