top of page




On African-American Rhetoric

On African-American Rhetoric traces the arc of strategic language use by African Americans from rhetorical forms such as slave narratives and the spirituals to Black digital expression and contemporary activism. 

kfg jok lbla.jpg

John Oliver Killens: A Life

of Black Literary Activism

Killens is recognized as the spiritual father of the Black Arts Movement. In this first major biography of Killens, Keith Gilyard examines the life and career of the man who was perhaps the premier African American writer-activist from the 1950s to the 1980s.

kfg LTP.jpg

Louise Thompson Patterson:

A Life of Struggle for Justice

Born in 1901, Louise Thompson Patterson was a leading and transformative figure in radical African American politics. Throughout most of the twentieth century she embodied a dedicated resistance to racial, economic, and gender exploitation. 

Convos on cult rhet.jpg

Conversations in Cultural Rhetoric and Composition Studies

Conversations in Cultural Rhetoric and Composition Studies is a collection of in-depth interviews featuring leading figures from across the composition and rhetoric field. With topics ranging from issues of cultural, racial, and ethnic identity to the history of composition and rhetoric in higher education, these conversations define cutting-edge concepts in a postmodern intellectual context.

True 2.jpg

True to the Language Game

In True to the Language Game, Keith Gilyard, one of the major African American figures to emerge in language and cultural studies, makes his most seminal work available in one volume. 

kfg cacw.jpg

Composition and Cornel West: Notes toward a Deep Democracy

In Composition and Cornel West, Gilyard identifies and explains key aspects of the work of Cornel West—the highly regarded scholar of religion, philosophy, and African American studies—as they relate to composition studies, focusing especially on three rhetorical strategies that West suggests we use in our questioning lives as scholars, teachers, students, and citizens.

liberation memories.jpg

Killens was regarded by many as a spiritual father who inspired a generation of African American novelists with his politically charged works. Seeking to strengthen our understanding of this important literary figure, Keith Gilyard departs from standard critical frameworks to reveal Killens’s novels as artful renderings of rich African American rhetorical forms and verbal traditions.

lets fli[ the script.jpg

Fusing insights derived from practical experience with knowledge drawn from an impressive and interdisciplinary array of texts, Gilyard examines-always with an eye on the state of African America-connections among language, politics, expressive culture, and pedagogy. This book is a rousing contribution to the African American intellectual tradition.


A unique blend of memoir and scholarship, Keith Gilyard's Voices of the Self is a penetrating analysis of the linguistic and cultural "collision" experienced by African-American students in the public education system. 


The 2012 NCTE Presidential

Address: Literacy, Rhetoric,

Education, Democracy

Listen, baby. Muver love you. Muver not dumb. Listen baby: ABCDEFGHIJKLM- NOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Thas the alphabet. Twenty-six letters in all. Them letters make up words. Them words everything. (Sapphire, 1996/1997, 66)

These are insights that the character Precious Jones, in the novel Push, records in her notebook. Writing to Abdul, her yet-to-be-born son, she indelibly links print literacy to possibility. The written word will not solve all of the problems in her more

CCCC Chair's Address: Literacy, Identity, Imagination, Flight

As I prepared to come to Minneapolis for this convention, I could not help, given the locale and thereof our gathering, to remember to pay homage to a special person of great imagination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  When King was gunned down in Memphis in 1968, the nineteenth annual CCCC convention was being held in this city. Fortunately, his dream of. non-racist societies lives on and, in fact, has inspired some of the best work done by members of our organization over the past thirty-two more

Creative Works

kfg tngosc.jpg

Black novels nowadays are divided between ‘hood novels and the post-race novels of the black millennial class. Rarely does a writer traverse as many cultural zones as Keith Gilyard in The Next Great Old-School Conspiracy. He has a good ear, an eye for detail, and his writing is lean and sharp. -----Ishmael Reed

This is a work of wonder, a crisp percussive narrative carrying a heavy load with style and grace---novella lean and smokehouse mean. ----- Arthur Flowers


"Keith Gilyard is that rarity: he is that wordsmith who alludes to far more than he will ever state. He is a mater player in the word game and is steeped in iconic voices of African American poetic texts as well as in the considerable encyclopedia depicting the African American experience. I approach his work with the same reverence that I bring to a Thelonious Monk. I come with newly fitted hearing aids and a note pad. I read Impressions: New and Selected Poems and ponder the labyrinth of volumes suggested in each of his nuances. And when I discover them, I am amazed and I shout."

- Sterling D. Plumpp

bottom of page