Figures in Black: Words, Signs and the Racial Self by Henry Louis Gates (Paperback, 1990)

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Gates's brilliance lies in fulfilling an exceptionally difficult task: that of interpreting this body of literature through contemporary critical theory without losing sight of its tradition. Gates is at his best as a critic of criticism, when he reflects upon and clarifies the underlying ideological assumptions of the critical activity itself, and he is also astute in his application of the critical principles which he unearths.".