The African American Male, Writing, and Difference

A Polycentric Approach to African American Literature, Criticism, and History

By W. Lawrence Hogue

Subjects: Literary Criticism
Paperback : 9780791456941, 306 pages, January 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456934, 306 pages, January 2003

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Table of contents



1. Introduction: Approaching African American Life, History, Literature, and Criticism Polycentrically

2. History, the White/Black Binary, and the Construction of the African American as Other

3. The White/Black Binary and the African American Sociopolitical Mission of Racial Uplift

4. Finding Freedom in Sameness: James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man

5. Disrupting the White/Black Binary: William Melvin Kelley's A Different Drummer

6. Exposing Limiting, Racialized Heterological Critical Sites: An Existential Reading of Charles Wright's The Messenger

7. The Blue Idiom Lifestyle, Counter-Hegemony, and Clarence Major's Dirty Bird Blues

8. Naming the Subaltern: The Swinging Life and Nathan Heard's Howard Street

9. Identity Politics, Sexual Fluidity, and James Earl Hardy's B-Boy Blues

10. Voodoo, A Different African American Experience, and Don Belton's Almost Midnight

11. Conclusion


Works Cited


Argues that African American literature must take into account the rich diversity of African American life and culture.


In this wide-ranging analysis, W. Lawrence Hogue argues that African American life and history is more diverse than even African American critics generally acknowledge. Focusing on literary representations of African American males in particular, Hogue examines works by James Weldon Johnson, William Melvin Kelley, Charles Wright, Nathan Heard, Clarence Major, James Earl Hardy, and Don Belton to see how they portray middle-class, Christian, subaltern, voodoo, urban, jazz/blues, postmodern, and gay African American cultures. Hogue shows that this polycentric perspective can move beyond a "racial uplift" approach to African American literature and history and help paint a clearer picture of the rich diversity of African American life and culture.

W. Lawrence Hogue is Professor of English at the University of Houston. He is the author of Race, Modernity, Postmodernity: A Look at the History and the Literatures of People of Color Since the 1960s, also published by SUNY Press, and Discourse and the Other: The Production of the Afro-American Text.