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Shaping Words to Fit the Soul : The Southern Ritual Grounds of Afro-Modernism - Jurgen E Grandt

Shaping Words to Fit the Soul

The Southern Ritual Grounds of Afro-Modernism

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Taking up where he left off with "Kinds of Blue" (The Ohio State University Press, 2004), Jurgen E. Grandt seeks to explore in depth some of the implications of the modernist jazz aesthetic resonating in the African American literary tradition. Grandt's new book, "Shaping Words to Fit the Soul: " "The Southern Ritual Grounds of Afro-Modernism, "probes the ways in which modernism's key themes of fragmentation, alienation, and epistemology complicate the mapping of the American South as an "authenticating" locus of African American narrative. Rather than being a site of authentication, the South constitutes a symbolic territory that actually resists the very narrative strategies deployed to capture it. The figurative ritual grounds traversed in texts by Frederick Douglass, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, and Tayari Jones reveal Afro-modernism as modernism with a historical conscience. Since literary Afro-modernism recurrently points to music as a symbolic territory of liberatory potential, this study also visits a variety of soundscapes, from the sorrow songs of the slaves to the hip-hop of the Dirty South, and from the blues of W. C. Handy to the southern rock of the Allman Brothers Band. Afro-modernism as modernism with a historical conscience thus suggests a reconfiguration of southern ritual grounds as situated in time and mind rather than time and place, and the ramifications of this process extend far above and beyond the Mason-Dixon Line.

"Jurgen Grandt boldly enters the ongoing debates over the nature and history of African American modernism. What Grandt does is to stake out a middle course between two extant schools of thought, describing an 'Afro-Modernism, ' with its roots in the fertile ground of Southern ritual, that operates differently, but not entirely apart from, modernism figured more broadly. This holds great promise to advance the debates beyond the point at which they might seem stalled." --Aldon Nielsen, George and Barbara Kelly Professor in American Literature, Pennsylvania State University

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction "Gone With 'What' Wind?": Afro-Modernism's Southern Ritual Groundsp. 1
A Life and Power Far Beyond the Letter: The Afro-Modernism of Life and Times of Frederick Douglassp. 17
Shaping Words to Fit the Soul: Afro-Modernism and the Breakdown of Communication in Jean Toomer's Canep. 35
Roll Call: Richard Wright's "Long Black Song" and the Betrayal of Musicp. 55
Blues and the Abstract Truth: The Southern Groove Continuum from W. C. Handy to the Allman Brothers Bandp. 75
Life and Death in the Dirty South: The Urban Ritual Grounds of Tayari Jonesp. 105
Conclusion "The Biggest Colored Show on Earth": Afro-Modernism, Hip-Hop, and Postmodern Blacknessp. 127
Notesp. 137
selected Discographyp. 163
Works Citedp. 167
Indexp. 183
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780814211120
ISBN-10: 0814211127
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 1st December 2009
Publisher: Ohio State University Press
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.7  x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.43