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Observers of American society have long noted the distinctive contribution of African Americans to the nation's cultural life. We find references to African American music and dance, black forms of oral expression, even a black style of playing basketball. But what do such terms really mean? Is it legitimate to talk about a distinct African American aesthetic, or is this simply a vestige of an outmoded racial essentialism? What makes a particular form of cultural expression "black" other than the fact that some African Americans may practice it? These are some of the questions addressed in the readings gathered in this volume by Gena Dagel Caponi. The essays, some previously published and others new, spring from a variety of disciplines and cover a broad range of topics, from the communal ritual of the ring shout to the evolution of rap to the improvisational genius of Michael Jordan. While each piece focuses on a different aspect of African American expressive culture, together they reveal a set of creative principles, techniques, and practices -- a cultural aesthetic -- that is remarkably consistent and resilient.
Despite the recent flourishing of seminal and influential works in African-American literary theory, cultural studies, and cultural history, there exists no single book that offers interpretive readings of African-American expressive culture across disciplinary boundaries that is viable as an undergraduate text. I most certainly would order this collection for my class.--John Gennari, University of Virginia This is the Golden Age of African-American cultural scholarship, and this anthology brings together some of the animating ideas and important documents out of which that scholarship has grown.--Roger D. Abrahams, author of Singing the Master: The Emergence of African American Culture in the Plantation South
For Ages: 22+ years old
Number Of Pages: 464
Published: 12th October 1999
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.72 x 3.05
Weight (kg): 0.74