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The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African American Literary Criticism Paperback – July 23, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0195136470 ISBN-10: 0195136470 Edition: 25 ANV

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The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African American Literary Criticism + Call and Response: Key Debates in African American Studies + African-American Autobiography: A Collection of Critical Essays
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Editorial Reviews


"Twenty-five years after its early exploration of the 'African-to-African/American' structure of textual meanings -- literary and oral -- Gates' seminal work re-emerges, revised and updated. Throughout that often turbulent quarter-century of African American intellectual discourse, some texts have retained a steadfast relevance. The Signifying Monkey continues to 'signify.'"--Wole Soyinka

"The Signifying Monkey is a trailblazing act of the critical imagination; a bold and brilliant reshaping of the African American literary and cultural tradition that has redrawn the map of American studies. I turn to this book for its deft interpretations, its rare insights, and its defining wisdom that defies the passage of time. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s most important work gives us a resonant framework of human values to guide our literary explorations and illuminate our cultural engagements."--Homi Bhabha, author of The Location of Culture

"Twenty-five years on from its first, explosive appearance, this wonderful book is still enlightening, stimulating, and enriching. It remains an indispensable point of orientation for the study of African American literature and the broader ecology of modern cultures that nurtured it."--Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic

Praise for the previous edition:

"Eclectic, exciting, convincing, provocative, challenging.... Gates gives black literature room to breathe, invents interpretive frameworks that enable us to experience black writing rather than label it in terms of theme or ideology. From this perspective his book is a generous, long-awaited gift.... Like great novels that force us to view the world differently, Mr. Gates' compelling study suggests new ways of seeing."--John Wideman, The New York Times Book Review

"Brilliantly original. Besides the work of Houston Baker, I cannot think of a more exciting reassessment of black literature that has been published in many years. The Signifying Monkey has the feel of a seminal work, likely to reshape the course of black American literary criticism for years."--The Washington Post Book World

"One of the most significant events in the development of Afro-American studies. Bold, ambitious, original.... An important contribution, not only to the study of Afro-American literature, but to the whole enterprise of 'literary theory' as it applies to any literature whatsoever. This is a brilliant book, and it deserves to be read widely." --Critical Inquiry

"The singularity of this book and the pleasure it gives are due to the very fruitful conjunction it manages to achieve.... It is rarely the case that work on a marginalized corpus makes such a contribution simultaneously to linguistics, rhetoric, and literary theory."--Jacques Derrida

About the Author

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, as well as director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American and Africana Studies, and is co-editor, with K. Anthony Appiah, of Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. With Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, he is the co-editor of the eight-volume biographical encyclopedia African American National Biography. In addition, he is the author of Figures in Black: Words, Signs and the 'Racial' Self, Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars, Colored People: A Memoir, and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (co-authored with Cornell West). His four-hour documentary, Black in Latin America, aired on PBS in April and May.

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