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Signifyin',Sanct'&Slam Dunking
     

Signifyin',Sanct'&Slam Dunking

by Gena Dagel Caponi (Editor)
 
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

Overview

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?

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
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'--that 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.--Louis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
With quotes from author Ralph Ellison and others, the editor's introduction makes a case for an African American aesthetic. The 21 readings, representing diverse timeframes (1920s to 1990s) and endeavors (music and dance, the oral art of satiric signifying, and sports and public displays of the body), shed light on the issues of: What is "black" in black culture? What purpose is served by identifying a unique African American style? How have these forms of cultural expression shaped American life? Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558491823
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
10/12/1999
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.38(d)

What People are Saying About This

Roger D. Abrahams
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.

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