He grew up in neighboring Piedmont. His father worked in a paper mill and moonlighted as a janitor, while his mother cleaned houses, as described in his memoir Colored People At the age of 14 Gates was injured playing touch footballfracturing the ball and socket joint of his hip, resulting in a slipped capital femoral epiphysis.
He grew up in neighboring Piedmont.
His father worked in a paper mill and moonlighted as a janitor, while his mother cleaned houses, as described in his memoir Colored People At the age of 14 Gates was injured playing touch footballfracturing the ball and socket joint of his hip, resulting in a slipped capital femoral epiphysis.
The injury was misdiagnosed by a physician, who told Gates' mother that his problem was psychosomatic. When the physical damage finally healed, his right leg was two inches shorter than his left. Because of the injury, Gates now uses a cane to help him walk.
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In JulyGates was promoted to the post of Lecturer in Afro-American Studies with the understanding that he would be promoted to assistant professor upon completion of his doctoral dissertation.
Jointly appointed to assistant professorships in English and Afro-American Studies inGates was promoted to associate professor in InGates was recruited by Cornell University with an offer of tenure ; Gates asked Yale if they would match Cornell's offer, but they declined. Following a two-year stay at Duke Universityhe was recruited to Harvard University in At Harvard, Gates teaches undergraduate and graduate courses as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professoran endowed chair he was appointed to inand as a professor of English.
As a literary theorist and criticGates has combined literary techniques of deconstruction with native African literary traditions; he draws on structuralismpost-structuralismand semiotics to analyze texts and assess matters of identity politics. As a black intellectual and public figure, Gates has been an outspoken critic of the Eurocentric literary canon.
He has insisted that black literature must be evaluated by the aesthetic criteria of its culture of origin, not criteria imported from Western or European cultural traditions that express a "tone deafness to the black cultural voice" and result in "intellectual racism".
The work extended application of the concept of " signifyin' " to analysis of African-American works. It is rooted African-American literary criticism in the African-American vernacular tradition.
Rather, he works for greater recognition of black works and their integration into a larger, pluralistic canon.
He has affirmed the value of the Western tradition, but has envisioned a more inclusive canon of diverse works sharing common cultural connections: He maintains that it is "ridiculous" to think that only blacks should be scholars of African and African-American literature. He argues, "It can't be real as a subject if you have to look like the subject to be an expert in the subject,  adding, "It's as ridiculous as if someone said I couldn't appreciate Shakespeare because I'm not Anglo-Saxon.
I think it's vulgar and racist whether it comes out of a black mouth or a white mouth. Some critics suggest that adding black literature will diminish the value of the Western canon, while separatists say that Gates is too accommodating to the dominant white culture in his advocacy of integration of the canon.
Wilsonwritten in and now considered the first novel in the United States written by a black person. He acquired and authenticated the manuscript of The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Craftsa novel from the same period that scholars believe may have been written as early as It would have precedence as the first-known novel written by a black person in the United States.
Clotel is recognized as the first novel published by an African American but William Wells Brown wrote and published it in London. The Bondwoman's Narrative was first published in and became a bestseller.
As a prominent black intellectual, Gates has concentrated on building academic institutions to study black culture. Additionally, he has worked to bring about social, educational, and intellectual equality for black Americans.
His writing includes pieces in The New York Times that defend rap music, and an article in Sports Illustrated that criticizes black youth culture for glorifying basketball over education.
Gates' prominence has led to his being called as a witness on behalf of the controversial Florida rap group 2 Live Crew in an obscenity case. He argued that the material, which the government charged was profane, had important roots in African American Vernacular Englishgames, and literary traditions, and should be protected.
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