Performing Blackness: Enactments of African-American Modernism


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Henry Louis Gates, Jr famously makes this argument for centering the oral tradition and vernacular speech in his book The Signifying Monkey.

Performing Blackness

This is not to say that the study of vernacular, whether through linguistics or literary theory, is a simple matter. There are many ideas regarding the influence and significance of vernacular language on our written culture, which I discuss in more depth in my dissertation. A larger blog post may be brewing about this subject! Sandra Y. While this is a accurate observation, it is not merely Langston Hughes who is situated in textbooks outside of the Modernist literary context and framed as solely a Harlem Renaissance writer.

Which seems so odd, anyway, since Hughes lived and worked until , almost 30 years after most scholars pinpoint the end of the Renaissance. Despite such robust conversation in the last few years, not much has yet changed in textbooks or mainstream literary scholarship, but academia is a notoriously slow moving train. Either way, go read yourself some Hughes over at The Poetry Foundation , and watch your day improve.

Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Sharyn Emery. I adore the film and sought to redeem it from the compounded and collusive sense of failure it endured as a result of critical inattentiveness, poor distribution, independent film cronyism, unfortunate programming choices by exhibitors, antiblack racism, or white supremacy. The film failed to be appreciated as an art film, independent film, American film, or black film. Furthermore, my focus on the dissociative sense of black performativity that the film enacts was inspired by the cinema, literature, and scholarship on passing because I read the film as a disobedient conception of the politics of passing.

I seek out challenging moments of film blackness because they compel a dead reckoning with the impropriety of limits with a dedication to addressing uncommon multitudes.

Performing Blackness: Enactments of African-American Modernism, 1st Edition (e-Book) - Routledge

I used to teach the films together in order to demonstrate a range of ways of understanding noir modalities of blackness. But as I began to write on Deep Cover it became a rich enough object to focus on exclusively. While your book is a study that thinks through and complicates understandings of black masculinity, in our conversations you and I have also talked about your appreciation, recognition, and study of black women filmmakers and the representation of black womanist or feminist ideas in cinema.

Gillespie: Sure.

The Performance of Blackness (Performing the World 2010)

One of the themes running throughout the book is how to account for a necessary complementarity and incompatibility surrounding issues of politics, pleasure, and a politics of pleasure surrounding the idea of black film. Later on, spending time at Women Make Movies and Third World Newsreel most immediately becomes a vital influence on my teaching. You really leave things open in terms of the potentials of blackness and film blackness, and return the reader to the questions with which you opened the book.

Gillespie: Thanks. I remain deeply fascinated by the proposition of an art film devoted to dead codes of hip-hop, the samurai, noir, and masculinity, with blackness as the binding firmament. But as I drafted that chapter it became clear that it was for another book.

References

It has a sense of place, quiet, black becoming, and desire. And, it offered a perfect intersection of the work of the other chapters on affect, visual historiography, performativity, and modalities. I think that this book will be invaluable in shaping a different pedagogy for teaching black film.

Can you share your vision for where you think the field is going, and what a black film pedagogy could look like? Gillespie: By design, I wanted to be careful to avoid a progressive modeling of black film historiography that would suggest a settled past and a future tied to a definitive sense of a victory achieved, such that a slavery-to-freedom conceit suggests, something that would suggest an arc: that once upon a time there was a man named Oscar Micheaux and then end with 12 Years a Slave [Steve McQueen, ] winning an Oscar, or Obama watching Selma [Ava DuVernay, ] in the White House.

Overall, I would like to think that the study of black film will continue to move towards assuming its place in the conceptual field of black visual and expressive culture.

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Gillespie: I am inspired by a number of cinema, literature, and visual culture scholars. The work I have been exposed to through the American Studies Association and Black Portraitures conferences has had the most significant impact on my scholarship. My goal is to keep doing the work of thinking about black visual and expressive culture, the work to understand how the art of blackness continues to defy, challenge, and enliven our sense of art, history, and culture. Notes 1. Sharyn Emery. Skip to content. Home About Me.


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Hughes responded to The Pittsburgh Courier by admitting as much: I would certainly be out of my sphere if I attempted to write about the Vanderbilts or the Gould or Park Avenue Society, because I know absolutely nothing about those subjects. Abowitz also writes the following: Sandra Y. Reading List and Citations Baraka, Amiri. Daggers and Javelins: Essays, New York: William Morrow and Co. Benston, Kimberly W.

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New York: Routledge, Berry, Faith. Langston Hughes, Before and Beyond Harlem. Westport: L.


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