The Over-Educated Negro

Over three years ago I started this blog with the title Black Man in the Cosmos.  It has been an interesting three years of writing and dialogue but I’ve decided that the title isn’t quite working for me. For one thing, I haven’t done the kind of blogging on science fiction and Afrofuturism that I anticipated, and there are plenty of other people out there doing some incredible work on this subject.  That includes the amazing exhibit “The Shadows Took Shape” that’s still on display at The Studio Museum in Harlem.  Between the successes of that exhibit, popular artists like Janelle Monae who are talking up black science fiction and afrofuturism, and a slew of conferences, anthologies and blogs, it seems that Afrofuturism is having a “moment” right now.  I’m not exactly sure what to make of that, but I’m excited to see it happening.  I’ll continue to add links to other Afrofuturism blogs, books and events, and I’ll still blog about Afrofuturistic things that interest me.

Though I’m changing the name, I was pleased to that some of my Afrofuturism links got some circulation, and I appreciate everyone who shared content from here. Among the most visited links on this blog was my post about the Sun Ra class at Berkeley in 1971 (really it was just a transcription of what was in the John Szwed biography of Sun Ra, Space is the Place.)  A few months after that post I discovered a link to an audio file of one of the course lectures from The Black Man in the Cosmos. If you’re as interested in Sun Ra’s work as I am it’s well worth a listen or three.

And so begins The Over-Educated Negro, a new name, and a new approach.  I wanted to direct my writing more toward the academic work that I am doing now.  The title comes from my dissertation The Over-Education of the Negro:  Higher Education, Academic Novels and the Black Intellectual which I will be defending (finally) on February 21, 2014.*  I did consider starting up another blog with that name, but I’ve put in work building this domain, and I’m not interested in trying to maintain two sites, so I thought it I’d just change the blog title and keep the url the same.

One bit of advice that I plucked out of the blogosphere somewhere (I have long since lost the original source) is that most people who ditch an old blog and start up a new one eventually end up doing all the same kind of writing that they were doing before. I have absolutely no data or examples to back that up, but the insight made sense to me based on my own blogging attempts through the years.  Mostly I will be doing similar writing, but (hopefully) more of it, and the focus will be more on black higher education.

I still maintain what I put in my last “About” description:  I’m not trying to keep up with the social media outrage machine with its daily dose of click-baiting “scandals.”  I think that there are some kinds of writing, research, art, and storytelling that are just not suited to social media with its emphasis on hot-button issues and quick reactions.  Besides, I’m not sure anyone is really all that interested in reading my two cents on the political controversy-of-the-day, and there are plenty of other places online where you can get that fix (and plenty of writers who are good at redirecting these flare-ups into more meaningful conversations).  That said, I did finally cave and join Twitter a few months ago, so feel free to follow me over there where I sometimes share some shorter items that I don’t post here.(@alavelleporter)

My project for 2014 is basically to write as much as I can about academic fiction and higher education.  I’ll be blogging here, and tweeting out some links and references.  I’ve been sitting on this subject for about five years now, and frankly it’s just time to put up or shut up.  So my plan is to take this topic as far as I can over the next several months, and then we’ll see what happens after that. Thanks for reading.

Edit: I always come off sounding so defensive and crotchety when I write about social media.  I swear I’m really not that much of a luddite or nostalgist.  And I recognize the inherent contradiction in writing about “futurism” while also expressing reticence about the very technology that will dominate that future. I’m just a book lover (and a slight misanthrope) with an uneasy relationship to the Internet.  I’ll have to work on that.

*Defense re-scheduled due to scheduling conflict.  I’ll just let ya’ll know when it’s actually done.

5 thoughts on “The Over-Educated Negro

  1. I am interested in your dissertation. Will you be mentioning Du Bois? I look forward to the fiction and academic books you are reading and the work. Will you also be mentioning the writers of the Harlem Renaissance?

    • Yes, Du Bois is a significant part of the project. Nearly all of his novels deal with black higher education in some form. I’m actually working on a separate article about Du Bois as a creative writer. Critics generally think of his fiction as inferior to his other writing, but there are some interesting ideas about higher education in his fiction work.

      There are a few Harlem Renaissance era writers who I mention. (I use a Langston Hughes poem called “Ph.D.” in the intro.) But most of the novels I am looking at come after the 1920s

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