ISBN-10:
0674003799
ISBN-13:
9780674003798
Pub. Date:
09/15/2000
Publisher:
Harvard
Color and Culture: Black Writers and the Making of the Modern Intellectual

Color and Culture: Black Writers and the Making of the Modern Intellectual

by Ross PosnockRoss Posnock
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Overview

The coining of the term "intellectuals" in 1898 coincided with W. E. B. Du Bois's effort to disseminate values and ideals unbounded by the color line. Du Bois's ideal of a "higher and broader and more varied human culture" is at the heart of a cosmopolitan tradition that Color and Culture identifies as a missing chapter in American literary and cultural history. The book offers a much needed and startlingly new historical perspective on "black intellectuals" as a social category, ranging over a century—from Frederick Douglass to Patricia Williams, from Du Bois, Pauline Hopkins, and Charles Chesnutt to Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alain Locke, from Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin to Samuel Delany and Adrienne Kennedy. These writers challenge two durable assumptions: that high culture is "white culture" and that racial uplift is the sole concern of the black intellectual.

The remarkable tradition that this book recaptures, culminating in a cosmopolitan disregard for demands for racial "authenticity" and group solidarity, is strikingly at odds with the identity politics and multicultural movements of our day. In the Du Boisian tradition Posnock identifies a universalism inseparable from the particular and open to ethnicity—an approach with the power to take us beyond the provincialism of postmodern tribalism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674003798
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/15/2000
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 371
Product dimensions: 5.69(w) x 8.94(h) x (d)

About the Author

Ross Posnock is Anna Garbedian Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Culture Has No Color

1. After Identity Politics

2. The Unclassified Residuum

3. Black Intellectuals and Other Oxymorons: Du Bois and Fanon

4. The Distinction of Du Bois: Aesthetics, Pragmatism, Politics

5. Divine Anarchy: Du Bois and the Craving for Modernity

6. Motley Mixtures: Locke, Ellison, Hurston

7. The Agon Black Intellectual: Baldwin and Baraka

8. Cosmopolitan Collage: Samuel Delany and Adrienne Kennedy

Notes

Works Cited

Index

What People are Saying About This

This learned, passionate apologia for cosmopolitan black intellectuals unsettles familiar figures and categories. Whether one is assenting to Color and Culture, arguing with it, or (as I often found myself) doing both at the same time, this is a book to contend with.

Charles Johnson

Color and Culture is a magnificent contribution to American literary history. Monumentally important in its exploration of the tensions between ethnicity and cosmopolitanism, Professor Posnock's book is the work on black literature that I have been waiting to read for three decades, one that both liberates and enlarges our discussions on racial identity and a century of black intellectual commerce from DuBois to Samuel Delany.
Charles Johnson, author of Dreamer and the National Book Award winner, Middle Passage

Kenneth W. Warren

Posnock's analysis starts from the observation that fixing identity, a la multiculturalism or postmodernism, has had destructive political, cultural, and social effects. Most discussion of public intellectuals presumes black writers are relative late-comers to the intellectual cadre. Posnock's book turns the recent discussion on its head. Taking a cue from Adolph Reed, Posnock admires black intellectuals precisely when they refuse the burden of representing or speaking for the race.
Kenneth W. Warren, author of Black and White Strangers

Michael P. Rogin

This learned, passionate apologia for cosmopolitan black intellectuals unsettles familiar figures and categories. Whether one is assenting to Color and Culture, arguing with it, or (as I often found myself) doing both at the same time, this is a book to contend with.
Michael P. Rogin, author of Blackface, White Noise

Customer Reviews