Mishkin, Tracy

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MISHKIN, Tracy

PERSONAL:

Born in Indianapolis, IN; Education: Cornell University, B.A.; University of Michigan, M.A., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Bureau of Jewish Education, Inc., 6711 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46260-4197; fax: 317-254-0265. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and educator. Professor of English at various colleges, including Georgia College and State University and Butler University, 1993-2004; program director of Bureau of Jewish Education, Inc., Indianapolis, IN, 2004—.

WRITINGS:

(Editor and contributor) Literary Influence and African-American Writers: Collected Essays, Garland (New York, NY), 1996.

The Harlem and Irish Renaissances: Language, Identity, and Representation, foreword by George Bornstein, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 1998.

Contributor of poems to publications such as Wise Women's Web (online literature magazine), PoetsUSA.com, and Poetica.

SIDELIGHTS:

As both editor of and contributor to Literary Influence and African-American Writers: Collected Essays, author and educator Tracy Mishkin seeks out new methods of identifying and addressing "the dynamics of literary interaction" in works by African-American writers, noted Christine MacLeod in Modern Language Review. The book "aims to recuperate the value of literary 'influence study' from its negative connotations—the notion that it is out-of-date, having been supplanted by authorless intertextuality, and the notion that anxiety and conflict are the primary modes of literary influence," remarked George Hutchinson in African American Review. Indeed, MacLeod observed that "the study of literary influence can never again be a simple matter of tracking down one writer's 'debt' to another."

Racial differences and racial antagonism have an undeniable effect on the interactions between black and white authors, but Mishkin, Hutchinson commented, finds that literary influence can also be positive and lacking in conflicts even in interactions between works of black and white authors. The contributors examine influences of playwrights, authors, and poets such as Shakespeare, Robert Frost, and Mark Twain, as well as ways in which novels such as Uncle Tom's Cabin have continued to affect African-American writing. Several authors, including Mishkin, address influences and interplay between African-American and Irish literature. "Literary and cultural analysis can only be strengthened by such pluralist approaches to the creative tension between authors, texts, and traditions," MacLeod stated. "In the end, one puts this volume down with a general sense of a trajectory suggesting the increasing self-mastery of the African-American tradition over time—a self-mastery in no way compromised by widely varying, complex interrelations with other traditions of whatever 'race' or nationality," Hutchinson concluded.

Mishkin's ideas about the connections between Irish and African-American cultures are more fully expanded upon in The Harlem and Irish Renaissances: Language, Identity, and Representation. The book is "a groundbreaking work that begins to open up this important aspect of the Harlem or New Negro Renaissance" as being deeply influenced by the Irish Renaissance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, commented James Smethurst in African American Review. "Mishkin's study lays side by side the basic features of the Irish Renaissance and the Harlem Renaissance, particularly with respect to issues of literary language and the use of 'folk' culture," Smethurst continued. African-American authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. DuBois, Alain Locke, James Weldon Johnson, and Countee Cullen "all acknowledged comparisons between the situation of the Irish with regard to Britain and African-Americans in relation to white Americans, and all found inspiration in Irish writing as a response to economic, racial, and cultural discrimination," observed C. L. Innes in Research in African Literatures. Mishkin's book examines not only the Irish influence on the thought and culture of black Americans, but the Irish response to the travails of African Americans. Smethurst noted that with The Harlem and Irish Renaissances Mishkin "has initiated a much-needed intellectual conversation" on mutual Irish and African-American influences.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

African American Review, fall, 1997, George Hutchinson, review of Literary Influence and African-American Writers: Collected Essays, p. 523; fall, 2000, James Smethurst, review of The Harlem and Irish Renaissances: Language, Identity, and Representation, p. 523.

Choice, November, 1999, S. Bryant, review of The Harlem and Irish Renaissances, p. 539.

Modern Language Review, July, 1998, Christine MacLeod, review of Literary Influence and African-American Writers, pp. 819-820.

Research in African Literatures, spring, 2001, C. L. Innes, review of The Harlem and Irish Renaissances, p. 146.