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  • 1. + ELIT 48C Class # 9 Complement versus Compliment Great Sweater! It looks good with those jeans! Thanks! I just bought it!
  • 2. + Grammar Slide  Complement is a noun or verb that means something that completes or makes up a whole: “The red sweater is a perfect complement to the outfit.”  Compliment is a noun or verb that means an expression of praise or admiration: “I received compliments about my new red sweater.”  Easily Confused or Misused Words | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0200807.html#ixzz2T7S5NSIg
  • 3. + AGENDA African American (Minority) Criticism Lecture Discussion
  • 4. + Toni Morrison: American novelist, American literary critic, editor, and professor. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. : American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual African American Criticism
  • 5. +The following perspectives help identify African-American criticism African American criticism notes that black writing comes out of a sociological, political, ideological, and cultural situation marked by oppression and marginalization. “Black” reading then must negotiate the difficult boundaries between textual and cultural meanings.  Black criticism has substantial ties to post-colonial criticism, and to the issues in it of the representation of the 'other” and the reclamation of identity in the forms and language of the oppressor.
  • 6. + African American criticism has an awareness that black experience has ties to African language, cultural practices, and attitudes, that it is formed through the experience of slavery and violence, that it has endured a long and troubled negotiation with white culture, so that black artistic production in white cultures is marked by white culture positively and negatively.
  • 7.  African American criticism is a struggle over the relation of race, reading, and critical theory, similar in some respects to that of feminist theory:  Who “speaks for” blacks?  Can only blacks “read” black literature?  Can black literature be read with the tools of contemporary criticism, or does it demand a more basic, moral and ideological commitment?
  • 8. African American criticism examines how white writing in racist countries reveals the nature of the oppression of blacks. Toni Morrison, for instance, argues that American culture is built on, and always includes, the presence of blacks, as slaves, as outsiders. Morrison likens the unwillingness of academics in a racist society to see the place of Africanism in literature and culture to the centuries of unwillingness to see feminine discourse, concerns, and identity. She posits whiteness as the “other” of blackness, a dialectical pair (each term both creates and excludes the other): no freedom without slavery, no white without black.
  • 9.  African American criticism is also an attempt to come to terms with the whole issue of what “race” is.  Historically race has been seen as something essential. That race is inherent, a matter of 'blood', was and is firmly believed by Americans, is clear from the recent autobiography of an American, Gregory Howard Williams, now Dean of the Law School at Ohio State, Life on the Color Line, a man who looks white, and whose father passed as Italian in Virginia, where his family was not known. He was, in Virginia, accepted and treated as white, but he was treated as black (and hence was the victim of exclusion and other prejudicial behavior) when the family returned to their home town of Muncie, Indiana: there they knew that his grandmother was black; therefore, he was black.  When is white black?-- When you have some “black blood”? Or when people know or think you have black blood?
  • 10.  As a subject matter, any analysis of a literary work written by an African American, regardless of the theoretical framework used, might be called African American criticism, even if no attention is paid to elements in the text that are specifically African American.  However, as a theoretical framework [. . .] African American criticism foregrounds race (racial identity, African American cultural traditions, psychology, politics, and so forth) as the object of analysis because race, in America, informs our individual and cultural psychology, and therefore our literature, in profound ways. As a theoretical framework, then, African American criticism can be used to analyze any literary text that speaks to African American issues, regardless of the race of its author, although the work of African American writers is the primary focus (Tyson 394).
  • 11. + Important Terms  In The Souls of Black Folk, arguably W.E.B. DuBois‟s most famous work, he introduces and addresses two concepts that describe the quintessential Black experience in America. The first is the concept of “the veil. ”  The veil concept primarily refers to three conditions of racial difference:  The literal darker skin of Blacks, which is a physical demarcation of difference from whiteness.  White people‟s lack of clarity to see Blacks as “true” Americans.  Blacks‟ lack of clarity to see themselves outside of what white America describes and prescribes for them.
  • 12. + Important Terms  The second concept that Debois introduces is “double- consciousness.” This concept is inextricably intertwined with “the veil.” The veil dampens the view of both Blacks and Whites, yet Blacks traditionally have a better understanding of whites than the reverse because of the “two-ness” lived by Black Americans. Understanding being Black and what that has historically meant (or means) in America, Black people know they operate in two Americas— one that is White and one that is Black. This is the phenomena of “double-consciousness,” the awareness of the “two-ness” of being both American and African American and the largely unconscious and instinctive shifts between the these two identities.
  • 13. + In Groups Discuss African American Criticism and your QHQs
  • 14. + QHQ: Racism and Racial Realism 1. Q: Why do some people have this idea that one race is superior than another? When will we be able to view everyone as equal? 2. Q: The most obvious question of all, is oppression still alive for minorities? 3. Q: Can mankind ever be free of racism? 4. Q: Is the philosophy of Racial Realism more helpful or harmful? Racial realism is defined by Tyson as “the conviction that racial equality will never be achieved in the United States and that African Americans should, therefore, stop believing that it will.” (Tyson, 382)
  • 15. + Internalized and Institutionalized Racism 1. Q: Do we live in a Internalized Racism perceptive? 2. Q: Was the creation of Black Vernacular English meant to stabilize institutionalized White American racism? “Internalized racism often results in intra- racial racism, which refers to discrimination within the black community against those with darker skin and more African features.”
  • 16. + QHQ: African American Criticism 1. Q: Why are African American criticisms overlooked and [why did] “white American literary historians consider black writers, when they considered them at all, as a tributary or an offshoot rather than part and parcel of American literary history”? (Tyson 361). 2. Q: Would African American literature have had the deep complexity and powerful voice if they were not subject to double consciousness due to the institutionalized American racism that was prevalent during these times?
  • 17. + Theoretical Intersections 1. How do different systems of oppression intersect with one another? 2. Is the way a woman looks at feminist criticism similar to the way an African American looks at African American criticism? 3. Why is racial realism a sickening but very real possibility and how can it be applied to feminist theory?
  • 18. + The Great Gatsby  In chapter four, Gatsby takes Nick in hurtling in his car towards Manhattan with “fenders spread like wings” to witness the power his money has bought him. In less than a page, the narrator Nick makes several pejorative comments that address aspects of race and ethnicity, noting friends of a dead man who had “…the tragic eyes and short upper lips of southeastern Europe,” as well as introducing us to Gatsby‟s colleague, Mr. Wofsheim, who he describes as a “small, flat-nosed Jew.”  Nick notices something he finds extraordinary: “As we crossed Blackwell‟s Island, a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry. „Anything can happen now that we‟ve slid over this bridge,‟ I thought; „anything at all…‟”
  • 19. + The Great Gatsby  There is a scene in the book in the beginning when Tom is reading a book called “The Rise of the Colored Empires” by a man named “Goddard.” Tom tells Nick that “civilization‟s going to pieces” and that it is “scientifically proven.” I think this is a form of institutionalized racism, since this book that Tom is reading seems to have made it into the canon and the fact that it is “scientifically proven” seems like the dominant race in America, the whites, are trying really hard to keep the black people in place.
  • 20. + Some questions African American critics ask about literary texts 1. What can the work teach us about the specifics of African heritage, African American culture and experience, and/or African American history? 2. What are the racial politics (ideological agendas related to racial oppression or liberation) of specific African American works?  Does the work correct stereotypes of African Americans?  Does it correct historical misrepresentations of African Americans?  Does it celebrate African American culture, experience, and achievement?  Does it explore racial issues, including, among others, the economic, social, or psychological effects of racism?  Or, does it, as can be seen in the literary production of many white authors, does the work reinforce racist ideologies?
  • 21. + More questions African American critics ask about literary texts 3. What are the poetics (literary devices and strategies) of specific African American works?  Does the work use black vernacular or standard white English?  Does the work draw on African myths or African American folktales or folk motifs?  Does the work provide imagery that resonates with African American women’s domestic space, African American cultural practices, history, or heritage?  What are the effects of these literary devices, and how do they relate to the theme, or meaning, of the work?
  • 22. + 4. How does the work participate in the African American literary tradition? In short, what place does it occupy in African American literary history or in African American women’s literary history? 5. How does the work illustrate interest convergences, the social construction of race, white privilege, or any other concept from critical race theory? How can an understanding of these concepts deepen our interpretation of the work? 6. How is an Africanist presence—black characters, stories about black people, representations of black speech, images associated with Africa or with blackness—used in works by white writers to construct positive portrayals of white characters?
  • 23. + HOMEWORK Read: Critical Theory Today: Chapter 10 “Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Criticism” pp. 317-355 Post #9: QHQ: Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Criticism