The Blackademic Life

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4101-8

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4100-1

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4099-8
Publication Date
October 2019
Page Count
208 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9
ISBN
0-8101-4099-3

The Blackademic Life

Academic Fiction, Higher Education, and the Black Intellectual
Lavelle Porter

The Blackademic Life critically examines academic fictions produced by black writers. In it, Lavelle Porter evaluates the depiction of academic and campus life in literature as a space for black writers to produce counternarratives that celebrate the potentials of black intelligence and argue for the importance of black higher education, particularly in the humanistic tradition.

Beginning with an examination of W. E. B. Du Bois’s creative writing as the source of the first black academic novels, Porter looks at the fictional representations of black intellectual life and the expectations that are placed on faculty and students to be racial representatives and spokespersons, whether or not they ever intended to be. The final chapter examines blackademics on stage and screen, including in the 2014 academic film Dear White People and the groundbreaking television series A Different World.

About the Author

LAVELLE PORTER is an assistant professor of English at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. 

Reviews

“Porter has produced an exciting study of responsibility and representation in a field where, for too long, the ‘educated Negro’ was by definition the ‘overeducated Negro.’ This is a wonderful read, and for those to whom it is new, it's exciting to have it all so richly and clearly spelled out.” —Samuel R. Delany, author of The Mad Man

The Blackademic Life is an expansive study of African American literary fiction that foregrounds students, professors, and campus life. Porter locates the origins of this genre in the Reconstruction era and traces its development through various stages of African American history, into the present day. He argues that academic fiction has long been an important site at which strategies and ideals of racial representation have been articulated and contested. Accordingly, he urges readers to acknowledge the genre as a central, rather than a marginal, form of black writing.” —Aida Levy-Hussen, author of How to Read African American Literature: Post–Civil Rights Fiction and the Task of Interpretation

“In this brilliant and insightful book, Lavelle Porter highlights the significance of the Black academic novel—a unique genre that captures the interconnection between higher education and Black literary production. By centering the writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, Nella Larsen, and many others, Porter compellingly shows how Black intellectuals used creative works to challenge racism in the academy and beyond.” —Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom