Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender, and the Vulgar Body of Jamaican Popular Culture / Edition 1

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The language of Jamaican popular culture—its folklore, idioms, music, poetry, song—even when written is based on a tradition of sound, an orality that has often been denigrated as not worthy of serious study. In Noises in the Blood, Carolyn Cooper critically examines the dismissed discourse of Jamaica’s vibrant popular culture and reclaims these cultural forms, both oral and textual, from an undeserved neglect.
Cooper’s exploration of Jamaican popular culture covers a wide range of topics, including Bob Marley’s lyrics, the performance poetry of Louise Bennett, Mikey Smith, and Jean Binta Breeze, Michael Thelwell’s novelization of The Harder They Come, the Sistren Theater Collective’s Lionheart Gal, and the vitality of the Jamaican DJ culture. Her analysis of this cultural "noise" conveys the powerful and evocative content of these writers and performers and emphasizes their contribution to an undervalued Caribbean identity. Making the connection between this orality, the feminized Jamaican "mother tongue," and the characterization of this culture as low or coarse or vulgar, she incorporates issues of gender into her postcolonial perspective. Cooper powerfully argues that these contemporary vernacular forms must be recognized as genuine expressions of Jamaican culture and as expressions of resistance to marginalization, racism, and sexism.
With its focus on the continuum of oral/textual performance in Jamaican culture, Noises in the Blood, vividly and stylishly written, offers a distinctive approach to Caribbean cultural studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Noises in the Blood is a highly original and important study that will change the direction of literary/cultural studies in the Caribbean. Fascinating and forcefully written."—Stewart Brown, Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham

"Noises in the Blood theorizes aspects of Caribbean popular culture in an exciting and new manner."—Selwyn R. Cudjoe, Wellesley College

"Carolyn Cooper’s book is lively, stimulating, challenging, witty, and skillfully-written. Noises in the Blood is the kind of text that a range of scholars and specialists and general readers in oral literature, cultural studies, African diaspora and Caribbean studies, popular culture, and cross-cultural literatures will find useful, helpful, and necessary."—Carole Boyce Davies, State University of New York, Binghamton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822315957
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Cooper is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Informing cultural studies: a politics of betrayal?
Introduction: Oral/sexual discourse in Jamaican popular culture 1
1 'Me know no law, me know no sin': transgressive identities and the voice of innocence: the historical context 19
2 'Culture an tradition an birthright': proverb as metaphor in the poetry of Louise Bennett 37
3 That cunny Jamma oman: representations of female sensibility in the poetry of Louise Bennett 47
4 Words unbroken by the beat: the performance poetry of Jean Binta Breeze and Mikey Smith 68
5 Writing oral history: Sistren Theatre Collective's Lionheart Gal 87
6 Country come to town: Michael Thelwell's The Harder They Come 96
7 Chanting down Babylon: Bob Marley's song as literary text 117
8 Slackness hiding from culture: erotic play in the dancehall 136
9 From 'centre' to 'margin': turning history upside down 174
Appendix 1: Proverbs from Louise Bennett 200
Appendix 2: Jamaican proverbs: a gender perspective 202
Bibliography 205
Index 210
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