"A creative psalm of brotherhood": The (De)constructive play in Martin Luther King's "letter from Birmingham jail"

Mark Gaipa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Scholars have celebrated the spoken word in King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," but they have overlooked the significance of the Letter's writing. In this essay I closely read King's act of writing the Letter, along with the figures of speech he employs in it, and I show how both - by enacting the mass media's ability to cross contexts - are essential to King's political strategy of nonviolent direct action, as well as to the Letter's argument against segregation - an argument that, before the fact, follows the steps we have since come to associate with deconstructive analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-307
Number of pages29
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Volume93
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Keywords

  • Civil rights
  • Deconstruction
  • Figures of speech
  • Mass media
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education

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