Thursday, April 12, 2012
The term “Signifying Monkey” comes from a folk trickster figure said to have originated during the slavery era. In the meta-narrative archetype, the monkey dupes a powerful lion by “signifying”: employing a speech pattern using connotative, contextual key words, the significance of which are accessible only to those who share unique cultural values and perspective. It is insider speech deliberately coded to be understood only by the intended audience.
In Henry Louis Gates’s highly influential book, The Signifying Monkey, he expands the term to refer not merely to a specific vernacular strategy, but also to a trope of double-voiced repetition and reversal that exemplifies a distinguishing property of African- American discourse.
Dr. Bridges breaks it all down tonight at the Stanford L. Warren branch of the Durham Public Library, #1201 Fayetteville Street, at 7pm. Admission is free.