By Madhu Dubey

Signs and Cities is the 1st ebook to think about what it ability to talk of a postmodern second in African-American literature. Dubey argues that for African-American reports, postmodernity top names a interval, starting within the early Nineteen Seventies, marked through acute disenchantment with the guarantees of city modernity and of print literacy.

Dubey exhibits how black novelists from the final 3 a long time have reconsidered the fashionable city legacy and hence articulated a pretty African-American pressure of postmodernism. She argues that novelists corresponding to Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Ishmael Reed, Sapphire, and John Edgar Wideman probe the disillusionment of city modernity via repeated recourse to tropes of the booklet and scenes of studying and writing. finally, she demonstrates that those writers view the publication with profound ambivalence, construing it as an city medium that can't recapture the face-to-face groups assumed by means of oral and folks sorts of expression.

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Extra resources for Signs and Cities: Black Literary Postmodernism

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As noted earlier, West’s writing adds fuel to crisis-ridden accounts of black urban community. cls T1: GKW April 2, 2003 12:59 The Postmodern Moment 35 nostalgically recalling an earlier era when black cultural traditions were intact and when class differences within the race did not carry the divisive implications they do in the present. Even when explicitly addressing the state of African-American life in the postmodern era, West draws his own authority to speak on behalf of the race from essentialist constructs of black community.

47 None of these intellectuals sought to disguise the conservative public-policy implications of their cultural portraits of the underclass. ” Henry Louis Gates exhorted the black urban poor to exercise individual responsibility. 48 Black intellectuals seeking to speak in the interests of the poor occupy a position of extreme contradiction in the postmodern era. Sharpening class divisions are highlighted by media and academic analysts as factors exacerbating the predicament of the African-American urban poor.

It is so much more acutely felt because this is a society where a lot of people live a Teflon existence, where a lot of people have no sense of the ragged edges of necessity, of what it means to be impinged upon by structures of oppression. To be an upper-middle-class American is actually to live a life of unimaginable comfort, convenience, and luxury. Half of the black population is denied this, which is why they have a strong sense of reality. (277) West’s response is apparently materialist in its reference to class variations within American experiences of material contingency.

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