Book

Signs and Cities

Madhu Dubey

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226167268
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226167282 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226167282.001.0001
Signs and Cities

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This book considers what it means to speak of a postmodern moment in African–American literature. The author argues that for African–American studies, postmodernity best names a period, beginning in the early 1970s, marked by acute disenchantment with the promises of urban modernity and of print literacy. She shows how black novelists from the last three decades have reconsidered the modern urban legacy and thus articulated a distinctly African–American strain of postmodernism. The author argues that novelists such as Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Ishmael Reed, Sapphire, and John Edgar Wideman probe the disillusionment of urban modernity through repeated recourse to tropes of the book and scenes of reading and writing. Ultimately, she demonstrates that these writers view the book with profound ambivalence, construing it as an urban medium that cannot recapture the face-to-face communities assumed by oral and folk forms of expression.

Keywords: postmodern moment; African–American literature; African–American studies; postmodernity; early 1970s; urban modernity; print literacy; black novelists; postmodernism; urban medium

Book.  294 pages. 

Subjects: Literature

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Introduction in Signs and Cities

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