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What makes someone an authority? What makes one person's knowledge more credible than another's? In the ongoing debates over racial authenticity, some attest that we can know each other's experiences simply because we are all ...
What makes someone an authority? What makes one person's knowledge more credible than another's? In the ongoing debates over racial authenticity, some attest that we can know each other's experiences simply because we are all "human," while others assume a more skeptical stance, insisting that racial differences create unbridgeable gaps in knowledge.
Bringing new perspectives to these perennial questions, the essays in this collection explore the many difficulties created by the fact that white scholars greatly outnumber black scholars in the study and teaching of African American literature. Contributors, including some of the most prominent theorists in the field as well as younger scholars, examine who is speaking, what is being spoken and what is not, and why framing African American literature in terms of an exclusive black/white racial divide is problematic and limiting.
In highlighting the "whiteness" of some African Americanists, the collection does not imply that the teaching or understanding of black literature by white scholars is definitively impossible. Indeed such work is not only possible, but imperative. Instead, the essays aim to open a much needed public conversation about the real and pressing challenges that white scholars face in this type of work, as well as the implications of how these challenges are met.
Lisa A. Long is an associate professor of English and the coordinator of the gender and women's studies program at North Central College.
|Introduction : white scholars / African American texts||1|
|Naming the problem that led to the question "who shall teach African American literature?; or, are we ready to disband the Wheatley Court?||17|
|Theme for African American literature B||29|
|Race walks in the room : white teachers in black studies||40|
|Naming the problem embedded in the problem that led to the question "who shall teach African American literature?"; or, are we ready to discard the concept of authenticity altogether?||52|
|Turning impossibility into possibility : teaching Ellison, Murray, and the blues at Tuskegee||68|
|White scholars in African American literary circles : appropriation or cultural literacy?||87|
|"Knowing your stuff," knowing yourself||97|
|At close range : being black and mentoring whites in African American studies||108|
|Faulty analogies : queer white critics teaching African American texts||123|
|The color of the critic : an intervention in the critical debate in African American theory on interpretive authority||134|
|Between Rome, Harlem, and Harlan||145|
|The stepsister and the clan : when the native teaches African American literature||154|
|Twelve years with Martin Delany : a confession||173|
|Writing about Gwendolyn Brooks anyway||198|
|Truth and talent in interpreting ethnic American autobiography : from white to black and beyond||209|