In this episode, Jessica Lynne speaks with Catherine G. Wagley about their shared love for Barbara Christian’s iconically confrontational essay, “The Race for Theory” (1987, Cultural Critique). Christian, a ground-laying literary academic who introduced writers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker to the academe, goes toe to toe with her peers in this essay, rebuking the constraints and monolith of French theory and championing the approach of learning from the language of creative writers “as a way to discover what language I might use.” In it, Christian both names and demonstrates the power of critique from within the institution, and its effective complement to calls for empowerment. And as Lynne and Wagley reflect on how criticism functions through a sense of curiosity and openness in both their practices, Lynne says, “it’s an intervening hand, right? Like, look at all these other planes that we could be living in. And, why not go there? Like, let’s go there. In fact, we know writers who are already there. We know artists who are already there.”
Momus: The Podcast is edited by Jacob Irish, with production assistance from Chris Andrews.