Mark Christian Thompson

Professor

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

Biography
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.