True to the Language Game
African American Discourse, Cultural Politics, and Pedagogy
In the preface to this book, Keith Gilyard describes his career as 30 years of roaming the areas of rhetoric, composition, sociolinguistics, creative writing, applied linguistics, education theory, literary study, history, and African American studies. That gives some impression of the range of topics covered in this compilation of selected highlights of his work, including several brand new contributions. He goes on to affirm that he is “not great in any of these fields”, but on this evidence he is being too modest.
True to the Language Game: African American Discourse, Cultural Politics, and Pedagogy (Routledge, 2011) is an engaging, entertaining and challenging book. Moving from the author’s ‘disciplinary birth’ as a teacher of composition, through an overview of some of the language controversies in the US classroom, to his recent work in literary history, it serves as an introduction not only to Gilyard’s research and ideas but to those of many other educational, cultural and literary theorists.
In this interview, we cover a little of this ground. We talk about the importance to society of critical thinking, the role of AAVE in bilingual education, the construction of race as a tool for social progress, and the status of the Black American literary canon.