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Postmodern American Literature and Its Other

Awards and Recognition:

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2010.

Redefining postmodern American literature to include the voices of women and nonwhite writers

Although literary postmodernism has been defined in terms of difference, multiplicity, heterogeneity, and plurality, some of the most vaunted authors of postmodern American fiction--such as Thomas Pynchon, Paul Auster, and other white male authors--often fail to adequately represent the distinct subjectivities of African Americans, American Indians, Latinos and Latinas, women, the poor of the center, and the global periphery. In this groundbreaking study, W. Lawrence Hogue exposes the ways in which much postmodern American literature privileges a typically Eurocentric, male-oriented type of subjectivity, often at the expense of victimizing or objectifying the ethnic or gendered Other.

In contrast to the dominant white male perspective on postmodernism, Hogue points to African American, American Indian, and women authors within the American postmodern canon--Rikki Ducornet, Kathy Acker, Ishmael Reed, and Gerald Vizenor--who work against these structures of stereotype and bias, resulting in a literary postmodernism that more genuinely respects and represents difference. He argues that most postmodern African American, American Indian, and women writers experience and write about postmodernity in ways that are substantially different from white men, since they are intimately concerned with the existence of racism and sexism. These “Other” authors, who are searching for new cultural forms and paradigms to describe themselves outside modernity’s conventions, define themselves according to their own logic, one that eschews fixed notions of identity in favor of a network of contextual, partial, contradictory, and shifting identifications.


“Bringing to the discussion the work of such authors as Rikki Ducornet and Ishmael Reed, Hogue creates an intriguing discussion that informs the scholarly debate regarding postmodernism. Highly recommended.”--Choice

“In Postmodern American Literature and Its Other, W. Lawrence Hogue presents the most extended critique of contemporary American literature’s blind spots published to date. Few critics before Hogue have taken such a nuanced approach to the best work of Pynchon, Auster, Ducornet, Acker, Reed, and Vizenor; perhaps none have addressed the degree to which these authors remain within or work against the narrowest precepts of the Enlightenment. Hogue’s model of a “planetary postmodernism” that places the Others--people of color, women, syncretic religions--at the center of literature offers a way forward into new epistemological possibilities. This book will challenge our conversations about American literature for years to come.”--Darryl Dickson-Carr, author of The Columbia Guide to Contemporary African American Fiction

“W. Lawrence Hogue opens up the postmodern canon--he makes the authors he criticizes more intriguing to read and study, and he gives multicultural and women authors their rightful place in postmodern American literature. Intriguing and thought-provoking.”--Jane Davis, author of The White Image in the Black Mind: A Study of African American Literature


W. Lawrence Hogue is a professor of English at the University of Houston and the author of several books, including The African American Male, Writing, and Difference: A Polycentric Approach to African American Literature, Criticism, and History.

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