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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.
|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|