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Loose Canons: Notes On the Culture Wars

The chairman of the Afro-American studies department at Harvard (and the scholar who unearthed the first published American novel by a black woman), Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a cultural pluralist who opposes the ”vulgar” nationalism of both Afrocentrists and white conservatives. ”If we relinquish the ideal of America as a plural nation,” he says in Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars, about the literary canon, ”we’ve abandoned the very experiment that America represents.” An elastic thinker as likely to refer to Jacques Derrida as to W.E.B. Du Bois, Gates tackles tough questions: ”Is ‘black’ poetry racial in theme,” he asks, ”or any sort of poetry written by black people?” Essential for anyone following the culture wars. A

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