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To Make a Literature Black

To Make a Literature Black kenneth w. warren University of Chicago A helpful point of departure for considering the significance of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s, The Signifying Monkey twenty-five years after its publication may be Gates's own assertion that "the most prevalent manifestation of signifying over the last four decades is to be found in the corpus of hip-hop music. You might say hip-hop is signifying on steroids" (xxix). That hip-hop has become a worldwide musical phenomenon is beyond dispute. That Gates's testimony (which he mentions proudly in the new introduction) in the 1990 trial in which the rap group 2 Live Crew was acquitted on charges of obscenity for its sexually explicit lyrics played any significant role in rap's commercial success is perhaps plausible if somewhat harder to credit. Yet for Gates the concomitant rise of rap and hiphop and his own career may constitute the most notable legacy of his work. Of course, Gates's view on this point does not necessarily entail that we also conclude that The Signifying Monkey has been inconsequential for the study of early American literature (and one could, on this point, total up citations to that work in journals and monographs on the period). Yet whatever http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Literature University of North Carolina Press

To Make a Literature Black

Early American Literature , Volume 50 (3) – Nov 18, 2015

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1534-147X
Publisher site
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Abstract

kenneth w. warren University of Chicago A helpful point of departure for considering the significance of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s, The Signifying Monkey twenty-five years after its publication may be Gates's own assertion that "the most prevalent manifestation of signifying over the last four decades is to be found in the corpus of hip-hop music. You might say hip-hop is signifying on steroids" (xxix). That hip-hop has become a worldwide musical phenomenon is beyond dispute. That Gates's testimony (which he mentions proudly in the new introduction) in the 1990 trial in which the rap group 2 Live Crew was acquitted on charges of obscenity for its sexually explicit lyrics played any significant role in rap's commercial success is perhaps plausible if somewhat harder to credit. Yet for Gates the concomitant rise of rap and hiphop and his own career may constitute the most notable legacy of his work. Of course, Gates's view on this point does not necessarily entail that we also conclude that The Signifying Monkey has been inconsequential for the study of early American literature (and one could, on this point, total up citations to that work in journals and monographs on the period). Yet whatever

Journal

Early American LiteratureUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 18, 2015

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