I’m going to be presenting at The State of African American and African Diaspora Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy and Research, a conference co-hosted by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Carribbean (IRADAC) at the CUNY Graduate Center, January 6-8, 2011. Here’s the full conference schedule.
Here’s the abstract I submitted for my talk:
“Black(ness) No More: Academia and the Culture Wars in Ishmael Reed’s Japanese by Spring.”
Ishmael Reed’s satirical novel Japanese by Spring (1993) is a humorous but sharply critical depiction of political debates in academia that took place in the 1980s and 1990s, commonly known as “the culture wars”. These debates included conflicts over topics such as affirmative action, black studies, multiculturalism and feminism, all of which are depicted in the novel. The main character of the novel is a black literature professor, Benjamin “Chappie” Putbutt III, a former Black Panther turned neoconservative, who is striving for tenure at the fictional Jack London College in Oakland, CA in the early 1990s. This presentation is part of a larger project on academic novels and the politics of the black intellectual. I will consider Japanese by Spring as a novel that is simultaneously situated in the traditions of African-American satire (including writers such as George Schuyler, a literary influence on Reed’s work), as well as a work of “academic fiction,” a genre defined by its fictional depictions of professors and university life.
The particular panel I am on will be held on Saturday, January 8th, 10:15-11:45am, at the CUNY Graduate Center, Room C205.