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401, 401V, 501V: English-Language Reading Diary

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Margo Jefferson interview: "I was anxious about using the word 'Negro' in a book title"

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(Click here for the full article.)

Groups 401, 501V: We will discuss this article in class next week.

In Russia, sometimes the English word "Negro" is used in translations from Russian to English, referring to black people. When we talk with students, we explain why this word, which has a deep and important history, is no longer preferred in current usage. The book Negroland, whose author is the subject of this interview, provides a far more adequate and interesting treatment of this and similar questions than we could give -- and I recommend it highly. In the meantime, enjoy this fascinating interview, and be ready to tell the class your thoughts on these points:
  1. In a few sentences, what is this article about?
  2. What are the interviewer's most important or most interesting questions? Summarize Margo Jefferson's answers.
  3. Who is this article's intended audience?
  4. How persuasive is the article in encouraging the audience to read Negroland?
Note these words and phrases. Which of them are unfamiliar?

emergent
precarious
lurk, lurking
ingrained
unease
show off
charged ("The word Negro is still very charged.")
signifier
trigger
tickled
call me a/an ("Call me a coward, ...")
hyper-awareness
thrall, in thrall to
essentialist
prime time
underpinnings

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