Cover image for Signifyin(g), sanctifyin' & slam dunking : a reader in African american expressive culture
Title:
Signifyin(g), sanctifyin' & slam dunking : a reader in African american expressive culture
Author:
Caponi-Tabery, Gena, 1953-
Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
viii, 467 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
From preface to the books of American Negro spirituals / An aesthetic of the cool: West African dance / Africa and the West Indies / Playing the blues / Africans, Europeans and the making of music / Ring shout! Literary studies, historical studies, and Black music inquiry / Heterogeneous sound ideal in African-American music / Impact of gospel music on the secular music industry / Flow, layering, and rupture in post industrial New York / "Keep to the rhythm and you'll keep to life" : meaning and style in African American vernacular dance / Lester Young and the birth of cool / On the Jazz musician's love/hate relationship with the audience / Characteristics of Negro expression / Stylin' outta the Black pulpit / A resistance too civilized to notice / Black and White truth about basketball / Hero of the blues / Michael Jordan leaps the great divide / Be like Mike? Michael Jordan and the pedagogy of desire / African-American festive style / From "strolling, jooking, and fixy clothes"
ISBN:
9781558491823

9781558491830
Format :
Book

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E185.86 .S575 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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E185.86 .S575 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
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Summary

Summary

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 it 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?


Summary

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.


Author Notes

Gena Dagel Caponi is Associate Professor of American studies at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and author of Paul Bowles: Romantic Savage.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Is there an African American aesthetic, or is such a concept a reinforcement of racial stereotyping? If there is such an aesthetic, what are some of its characteristics? Although this anthology does not provide definitive answers to such questions, its explorations make for provocative reading. The pieces (written by authors like Zora Neale Hurston and John Edgar Wideman and ranging from gospel to rap) trace African American culture back to Africa and demonstrate the influences of an African American aesthetic on American culture in general. The book is divided into three sections: music and dance (by far the largest); signifyin'Äthat is, oral expression; and sports. Left out are "visual art, film, humor [and] theater." Though some of the writings are uneven, and there are notable omissions (e.g., the Black Arts Movement), this engaging collection from Caponi (American Studies, Univ. of Texas, San Antonio) will be of interest to students of black studies and cultural studies. For public and academic libraries.ÄLouis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal Review

Is there an African American aesthetic, or is such a concept a reinforcement of racial stereotyping? If there is such an aesthetic, what are some of its characteristics? Although this anthology does not provide definitive answers to such questions, its explorations make for provocative reading. The pieces (written by authors like Zora Neale Hurston and John Edgar Wideman and ranging from gospel to rap) trace African American culture back to Africa and demonstrate the influences of an African American aesthetic on American culture in general. The book is divided into three sections: music and dance (by far the largest); signifyin'Äthat is, oral expression; and sports. Left out are "visual art, film, humor [and] theater." Though some of the writings are uneven, and there are notable omissions (e.g., the Black Arts Movement), this engaging collection from Caponi (American Studies, Univ. of Texas, San Antonio) will be of interest to students of black studies and cultural studies. For public and academic libraries.ÄLouis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.