Transcultural Theory and Black Males

By Reginald Martin.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Non-American readers perceive canonical American texts differently than do Americans. This is especially true in the Chinese and Indian perceptions of African American texts from the 1960s. Some big-name critics I have been reading over the past few years assert that “theory” as an area of English studies is dead—pointless in its own solipsism—or “ended,” as Jonathan Culler and others have written. Houston Baker, in his latest book “Betrayal,” seems to express that, while theory is not dead, it is pointless unless it embraces key current social issues. Baker, as an original member of the New Black Aesthetic Critics, should be expected to posit a humanistic center to his theories; to his credit, he has not changed that opinion in fifty years. Indeed, the positing of the human and human concerns at the core of original and New Black Aesthetic Criticism is one of the key reasons this school of criticism was shunned by Yale and its Structuralism at the same time (early 1970s). English studies were not only controlled and garrisoned by Anglophiles and Francophiles, they were desperate from 1965 (J. L. Austin’s Speech Act Theory) to 1979 (the high water years of Structuralism (especially Giroud) and Deconstruction (especially Foucault)) to turn itself into an algorithm so that it could compete with its affiliates in the hard and applied sciences for funding. To say that academic theory failed miserably in its attempt to become relevant and funded by a government that could not spell “deconstruction,” much less understand the theories, is telling only the more obvious part of our last fifty years of theory in the Academy.

Keywords: Transcultural Theory, Cultural Criticism

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.61-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 365.161KB).

Dr. Reginald Martin

Chair, Tenure and Promotion, Department of English, Literacy Education, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA

Reginald Martin, MFA, PhD., is Full Professor of English and the author of numerous articles and nine books in writing, theory, poetry, short stories and fiction, with a PhD in Modern Letters from the University of Tulsa, an MFA from Norwich University, Vermont, and an AS in Computer Technologies from State Technical Institute of Memphis. His most recent book, Everybody Knows What Time It Is (UNOP, 2010), won the Deep South Writer's Prize for Best Novel in Manuscript. Martin is Chair of Tenure and Promotions for the Department of English, and has won the Ford Foundation Award from the National Academy of Sciences, The American Council on Education Award, as well at the University's Distinguished Teaching Award (two), the BGSA Award for Academic Excellence, and the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Award. His current project is a screenplay called The Last of the Delta BluesMen.