Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
© 2010 World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a university professor, writer and editor. He holds an MA and a PhD in English Literature from the Clare College at Cambridge University, and graduated summa cum laude with BA in History from Yale University.

He is currently director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at the University of Harvard, and was appointed Alphonse Fletcher University Professor in 2006. Before joining the University of Harvard in 1991, he taught at Duke, Cornell and Yale University.

Henry Louis Gates has authored many works such as The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (Oxford, 1988), which won the American Book Award, Colored People: A Memoir (Knopf, 1994), and Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own (Crown, 2007). Professor Gates has authenticated and published two founding texts of African-American culture: Our Nig, or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859), by Hariett Wilson, the first novel published by an African-American woman, and The Bondwoman's Narrative, by Hanna Crafts, one of the first novels written by an African-American woman. In 2006, with contribution from Hollis Robbins, he co-edited The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin (W.W. Norton, 2006). He has edited several anthologies, such as The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (W.W. Norton, 1996). He has also co-edited, with Anthony Appiah, a book entitled Africana: The Encyclopaedia of the African and African American Experience. He has equally co-edited the eight-volume encyclopaedia entitled African American National Biography (Oxford, 2008).

An influential cultural critic, Henry Louis Gates has written for Time Magazine, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

He has received many distinctions including a Genius Grant from the McArthur Foundation (1981), the George Polk Award for Social Commentary (1993), and has appeared on the list of the Twenty Five Most Influential African Americans, published by Time Magazine (1997), and has been conferred the National Humanities Medal (1998). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science (1999) and in 2009 received the Ralph Lowell prize, the highest distinction for public television professionals. He has received more than fifty honorary degrees and awards from institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Emory University, Toronto University, Morehouse University, and the University of Benin.

Henry Louis Gates served as Chair of Afro-American Studies at the University of Harvard from 1991 to 2006. He also serves on the board of many institutions such as the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum, the Lincoln Center, Aspen Institute, and the Harlem Studio Museum.

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