Mark Christian Thompson

Professor and Chair

Gilman 16
410-516-6237
mcthompson@jhu.edu
Personal Website

Biography
Publications
Books

Mark Christian Thompson is a Professor of English. His work explores the interrelatedness of African-American expressive culture and European thought, often finding problematic, at times undesirable yet nevertheless existent, confluences between the two. In so doing, he uses a wide array of critical approaches, including historicism, political theory, psychoanalysis and deconstructive practices. As well as having published numerous essays, he is the author of three books: Anti-Music: Jazz and Racial Blackness in German Thought Between the Wars (SUNY Press 2018); Kafka’s Blues: Figurations of Racial Blackness in the Construction of Kafka’s Aesthetic (Northwestern University Press 2016); and Black Fascisms: African-American Literature and Culture between the Wars (2007).

Anti-Music examines how African American jazz music was received in interwar German philosophical discourse both as a racial and cultural threat and as a partner in promoting the rise of Nazi totalitarian cultural politics.

Kafka’s Blues proves the startling thesis that many of Kafka's major works engage in a coherent, sustained meditation on racial transformation from white European into what Kafka refers to as the "Negro" (a term he used in English). Indeed, through new close readings of canonical texts and undervalued letters and diary entries set in the context of the afterlife of New World slavery and in Czech and German popular culture, this book demonstrates that cultural assimilation and bodily transformation in Kafka's work are impossible without passage through a state of being "Negro." offers.

Black Fascisms addresses the startling fact that many African American intellectuals in the 1930s sympathized with fascism, seeing in its ideology a means of envisioning new modes of African American political resistance. Thompson surveys the work and thought of several authors and asserts that their sometimes positive reaction to generic European fascism, and its transformation into black fascism, is crucial to any understanding of Depression-era African American literary culture.

Thompson has taught courses in 19th- and 20th-century African-American literature; critical theory; and European modernism.

He received his PhD in comparative literature from New York University in 2001, where his studies primarily focused on German Idealism and contemporary French philosophy.

“What Will Be African-American Literature?” American Literary History (Winter 2013) 25 (4): 958-966.

“The Negro Who Disappeared: Race in Kafka’s Amerika.” Violence, Aesthetics, Culture: Germany, 1789-1938. Eds. Carl Niekerk and Stefani Engelstein. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2011. 183-198.

“Aesthetic Hygiene: W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and the Work of Art.” The Blackwell Companion to African American Literature. Ed. Gene Jarrett. New York: Blackwell, 2010. 244-253.

“A Response to Xiomara Santamarina.” American Literary History 20.1-2 (Spring-Summer 2008): 317-320.

“Voodoo Fascism: Fascist Ideology in Arna Bontemps’ Drums at Dusk.” MELUS 30.3 (Fall 2005): 155-178.

“The Way Out: The Slave Narrative in Kafka's Ein Bericht für eine Akademie,” Invited Lecture, New York University, Prague, 3/14.

“Ape Autobiography: On Kafka's Ein Bericht für eine Akademie as a Slave Narrative,” Invited Lecture, Symposium: “Blackness, Germany, and the Concept of Race,” UCLA, 4/12.

“Being Beloved: Morrison, Heidegger, and Black Anti-Humanism,” Invited Lecture, Americanist Colloquium Series, Yale University, 12/09.

“The Apostles of Beauty: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Aesthetics of Double Consciousness,” Invited Lecture, Brown University, 01/09.

“The Apostles of Beauty: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Aesthetics of Double Consciousness,” Invited Lecture, The Johns Hopkins University, 01/09.

“The Critique of Nonviolence: Benjamin, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Sovereignty,” Invited Lecture, Brown University, 08/08.

“The Critique of Nonviolence: Benjamin, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Sovereignty,” Invited Lecture, The Institute for American Studies, Rome, Italy, 04/08.

“Jazz: The Music of Fascism: On Adorno and His Negroes,” Friedrich-Alexander University, Invited Lecture, Erlangen, Germany, 03/08.

“The Black Arts and Black Neofascism,” Invited Lecture, The University of California, Santa Barbara, 01/07.

“The Sun Also Races: Hemingway’s Blackness,” Invited Lecture, The University of California, Irvine, 12/06.

“Performing Revolution: The Black Aesthetic as Insurgence,” Invited Panelist, New Directions in African American Theory and Criticism Conference, Indiana University, 04/06

“Black Fascisms,” States of Welfare: A Mellon Foundation Conference, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 03/06

"The Negro Who Disappeared: Race in Kafka's Amerika," Violence in German Literature, Culture and Intellectual History, 1789-1938, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 10/05

"The Negro Who Disappeared: Race in Kafka's Amerika," Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 02/05

“Jazz: The Music of Fascism: On Adorno and His Negroes,” Invited Panelist, The Frankfurt School Today, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 04/04

“Jealous Rebels: Fascism in The Outsider, Invited Panelist, New Directions in African American Theory and Criticism Conference, Indiana University, 04/04

“The Myth of Marcus Garvey.” Invited Speaker, Harvard University, 01/04

“The Sufi.” Invited Speaker, Vassar College, 01/04

“My Own Private Ethiopia: Ethiopianism and Classical Black Nationalism in The Souls of Black Folk.” Modern Language Association Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, 12/03

“The Possessed Island: African-American Cultural Appropriations of Post-Occupation Haiti.” South Atlantic Modern Language Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, 11/03

“‘In Turban and Gorgeous Robe’”: Claude McKay, Black Labor and Fascism in 1930s Harlem.” American Studies Association Annual Conference, Hartford, CT, 10/03

“The Myth of Marcus Garvey: Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the Universal Negro Improvement Association and Fascist Ideology.” New Directions in African American
Theory, Criticism and Cultural Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 4/03

“The God of Love: Fascism and Melodrama in George S. Schuyler’s Black Empire.” Guest Speaker, University of California, Los Angeles, 2/03

“Distant Drums: Voodoo, Fascism and Haitian Revolution in Arna Bontemps, Drums at Dusk.” South Atlantic Modern Language Association Annual Conference, 11/02

“The Death Continent: Blood-Sacrifice and Authoritarian Rule in D.H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent.” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Annual Conference, 10/02

“Killing Coons: The Scapegoating of African America in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and Ellison’s Invisible Man.” Guest Speaker, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2/01

“National Socialism and Blood-Sacrifice in Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain.” African American Review 38.3 (2004): 395-415.

“The God of Love: Fascism in George S. Schuyler's Black Empire.” CLA Journal 48.2 (Dec. 2004): 183-99.

“Hamid, Sufi Abdul,” Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. 2 vols. Eds. Cary D. Wintzand Paul Finkelman. New York: Routledge, 2004. 459-460.