Monday, April 18, 2011

Mangum murder and English language mayhem

The charge against Duke LAX false-accuser Crystal Mangum for stabbing her boyfriend or whatever he was has been upgraded to murder, meaning, to make it clear for D-blog readers, that the guy died. KC Johnson's Durham-in-Wonderland links to the NewsObserver's barebones account. Is this a surprise to anyone who's followed the woman's career?

Update: Scroll down a few posts and take a look at KC's take on Gang of 88 stalwart Wahneema Lubiano's (I didn't even have to look to spell her name right) {Update, many moons later: but I got her name backwards. Jesus. Originally I had it as "Lubiano Wahneema"] doctoral dissertation:
Lubiano’s dissertation—“Messing with the Machine: Four Afro-American Novels and the Nexus of Vernacular, Historical Constraint, and Narrative Strategy”—features the combination of only-in-academia beliefs and impenetrable prose that would characterize the few publications she would pen over the next quarter century. Here’s an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the dissertation, with the run-on structure as in the original:
And it does seem easy to give into [my sic] the temptation to think that one “knows” or understands already books about people who live, as the narrator in Invisible Man puts it, a “public life,” and in many ways anyone part of the Afro-American culture does lead a public life, is part of a group “known” (to the public’s gaze) more in the mass than in the particular, the idiosyncratic. Consideration of the “literariness” of these texts might seem, to some readers, almost superfluous because knowledge of the oppression imposed on the culture which forms the (con)text seems to make closer scrutiny of form, of structure, frivolous.
Somebody in the comments (be sure to read) found Wahneema's dissertation abstract:
Four Afro-American novels have advanced new visions of reality, language, and structure. These visions give rise, during the Harlem Renaissance, to the fantastical, shadowy, and dark reality of Cane and the lyricism and folklore of Their Eyes Were Watching God, to the surrealism of the nightmare vision of Invisible Man in the modern era; and, in the post-modern era, to the magical realism of Song of Solomon.

The intersection of Afro-American vernacular, as language or as attitude toward language, the historical moment and its varied constraints, and the narrative structures, form an intersection within these texts: a nexus. That nexus is the unmediated space for the construction of meta-realistic visions that undermine a dominant Anglo-American realism predicated on rationalism and linear historical constructs.

My study, to a great extent, is a translation of that nexus via an examination of the vernacular and the currents of contemporary literary discourse. Within that nexus, the borders of difference are foregrounded, and exploration of that difference is more productive for readers than a too easy and thoughtless identification with the content and themes of the texts.
Anybody who's followed the D-blog's decades-long publication of hilarious (at least to the D-blog) abstracts can see that Wahneema is like frickin' Hemingway (I hate Hemingway) in her word economy and general sense-making compared to some of the divots he's mocked.

Academia is a disease.

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