October 5, 2012, Room 8301, The Graduate Center
“The Over-Education of the Negro: Academic Fiction, Higher Education, and the Black Intellectual”
Lavelle Porter, Ph.D. Program in English
This presentation will be an overview of my dissertation project on “academic fiction,” a genre defined by its fictional depictions of professors, graduate students and university life. In particular my work focuses on academic fiction produced by black writers. While the dissertation is mostly about the academic novel as a literary genre, my analysis also includes works in other creative genres, including short stories, plays and films. The field of Black Academic Fiction includes work by a diverse range of black intellectuals including W.E.B. Du Bois, Paule Marshall, Percival Everett, Ishmael Reed, Samuel R. Delany, Adrienne Kennedy, Zadie Smith, Spike Lee, and many others. In this project I survey the critical literature on academic fiction and I describe how black academic fiction explores some common themes in all academic fiction, while also addressing a distinct set of issues related to the social, historical and political status of black Americans.