Beyond Windrush: Rethinking Postwar Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2015-08-02 15:13Z by Steven

Beyond Windrush: Rethinking Postwar Anglophone Caribbean Literature

University Press of Mississippi
2015-07-10
234 pages
1 b&w illustration, 3 maps, introduction, epilogue, index
6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN:9781628464757

Edited by:

Dillon Brown, Associate Professor of English and African and African American
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Leah Reade Rosenberg, Associate Professor of English
University of Florida

A challenge to the primacy of the Windrush generation as the sole founders of Caribbean literature

Contributors: Edward Baugh, Michael Bucknor, Raphael Dalleo, Alison Donnell, Nadia Ellis, Donette Francis, Glyne Griffith, Kate Houlden, Evelyn O’Callaghan, Lisa Outar, Atreyee Phukan, Kim Robinson-Walcott, Faith Smith, and Michelle Stephens

This edited collection challenges a long sacrosanct paradigm. Since the establishment of Caribbean literary studies, scholars have exalted an elite cohort of émigré novelists based in postwar London, a group often referred to as “the Windrush writers” in tribute to the SS Empire Windrush, whose 1948 voyage from Jamaica inaugurated large-scale Caribbean migration to London. In critical accounts this group is typically reduced to the canonical troika of V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Sam Selvon, effectively treating these three authors as the tradition’s founding fathers. These “founders” have been properly celebrated for producing a complex, anticolonial, nationalist literature. However, their canonization has obscured the great diversity of postwar Caribbean writers, producing an enduring but narrow definition of West Indian literature.

Beyond Windrush stands out as the first book to reexamine and redefine the writing of this crucial era. Its fourteen original essays make clear that in the 1950s there was already a wide spectrum of West Indian men and women—Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white-creole—who were writing, publishing, and even painting. Many lived in the Caribbean and North America, rather than London. Moreover, these writers addressed subjects overlooked in the more conventionally conceived canon, including topics such as queer sexuality and the environment. This collection offers new readings of canonical authors (Lamming, Roger Mais, and Andrew Salkey); hitherto marginalized authors (Ismith Khan, Elma Napier, and John Hearne); and commonly ignored genres (memoir, short stories, and journalism).

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Geographies Of Cubanidad: Place, Race, and Musical Performance in Contemporary Cuba

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2015-08-01 01:42Z by Steven

Geographies Of Cubanidad: Place, Race, and Musical Performance in Contemporary Cuba

University Press of Mississippi
2005-07-10
328 pages
6 x 9 inches, 14 b&w illustrations, 1 map, 3 tables, glossary, bibliography, index
Hardback ISBN: 9781628462395

Rebecca M. Bodenheimer

A study of how notions of place and race inform the identities and performances of musicians in contemporary Cuba

Derived from the nationalist writings of José Martí, the concept of Cubanidad (Cubanness) has always imagined a unified hybrid nation where racial difference is nonexistent and nationality trumps all other axes identities. Scholars have critiqued this celebration of racial mixture, highlighting a gap between the claim of racial harmony and the realities of inequality faced by Afro-Cubans since independence in 1898. In this book, Rebecca M. Bodenheimer argues that it is not only the recognition of racial difference that threatens to divide the nation, but that popular regional sentiment further contests the hegemonic national discourse. Given that the music is a prominent symbol of Cubanidad, musical practices play an important role in constructing regional, local, and national identities.

This book suggests that regional identity exerts a significant influence on the aesthetic choices made by Cuban musicians. Through the examination of several genres, Bodenheimer explores the various ways that race and place are entangled in contemporary Cuban music. She argues that racialized notions which circulate about different cities affect both the formation of local identity and musical performance. Thus, the musical practices discussed in the book—including rumba, timba, eastern Cuban folklore, and son—are examples of the intersections between regional identity formation, racialized notions of place, and music-making.

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Oreo: A Comeback Story

Posted in Audio, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2015-07-25 01:55Z by Steven

Oreo: A Comeback Story

On The Media
WNYC FM
New York, New York
Friday, 2015-07-17

Mythili Rao, Host and Producer

Guests: Mat Johnson, Harryette Mullen, Mark Anthony Neal and Danzy Senna

In 1974, Fran Ross published her first and only novel, “Oreo.” The satirical tale of a biracial teenager’s Theseus-style quest to find her father was almost completely overlooked in its era. Now, more than 4 decades later, its re-issue is being met with critical praise. Producer Mythili Rao explores why Ross’s take on racial identity was so ahead of its time.

Listen to the interview (00:10:58) here.

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The “Telling Part”: Reimagining Racial Recognition in Jackie Kay’s Adoptee Search Narratives

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-07-19 22:12Z by Steven

The “Telling Part”: Reimagining Racial Recognition in Jackie Kay’s Adoptee Search Narratives

Contemporary Women’s Writing
Volume 9, Issue 2 (July 2015)
pages 277-296
DOI: 10.1093/cww/vpu041

Pamela Fox, Professor of English
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

This article examines Jackie Kay’s earliest and renowned autobiographical poetic text, The Adoption Papers (1991), in relation to her latest narrative memoir, Red Dust Road (2010), and in the context of racial recognition theories recently revived in transracial adoption (TRA) discourse, as well as in transnational adoptee versions of TRA search narratives. Investigating the tropes of mirrors and bodily markings recurring in both texts, the article also draws on literary theories of recognition to enrich our understanding of Kay’s unique and dual intervention into TRA debates around notions of kinship, as well as autobiographical narrative models that fully reject or embrace a longing for racialized epistemic and narrative wholeness. Kay periodically preserves yet ultimately reimagines the myriad tensions of seeking and practicing racial recognition by constituting it as a distinct but momentary kind of vision. Her practice of life writing highlights reading (both literal and interpretive) as a crucial component of self-construction that continually mediates between individual and group identities. She presents the adoptive self as a freeing constellation of shifting affiliations, but as the product of intertwined Western and diasporic histories and relations, her texts also bear the marks of longing for a singular legible “home,” a stable “I.”

Read or purchase the article here.

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Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction by Diana Rebekkah Paulin (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-13 20:00Z by Steven

Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction by Diana Rebekkah Paulin (review) [Black]

TDR: The Drama Review
Volume 59, Number 2, Summer 2015 (T226)
pages 178-180

Alex W. Black
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction. Diana Rebekkah Paulin. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 336 pages.

Imperfect Unions is Diana Rebekkah Paulin’s award-winning study of “the symbolic and material implications of interracial unions” in the United States from the Civil War to World War I (3). During this period, interracial sex was often “the black-white headliner that overwrote stories featuring other intersecting relationships,” including those of gender and class (xvi). For example: In her 1892 pamphlet Southern Horrors, Ida B. Wells demonstrated that black men were lynched in the postbellum South not because they were a sexual threat to white women, but because they were an economic threat to white men. Paulin calls the process through which miscegenation came to stand in for such conflict “demographic distillation” for the way it “elided other types of power relations” (x, xiii). Interpreting drama and fiction to investigate “the contours of the color line,” Paulin argues that “the black-white encounter overshadows the complex” identities of, and relations between, all Americans, regardless of their race or ethnicity (xi, ix).

Paulin’s “miscegenated reading practices” draw on performance studies and literary history to examine formally hybrid productions like Thomas Dixon’s play The Clansman, which he adapted from his own novel, and Pauline Hopkins’s Winona, which she began as a play but rewrote as a novel (xiii). If the name Paulin gives to her method is provocative (one may argue how parallel the lines of color and of scholarship are), the method itself is productive. Her approach is consistent with the objects of study, which often make their arguments in theatrical terms — many are filled with spectacular enactments of identity — and with their creators, who worked in multiple media. More than viewing performance as a metaphor, these writers saw their texts as “mediating between the imagined world and the realities of everyday experience” (3): Louisa May Alcott based “M.L.” on the well-known case of a black male professor eloping with a white female student (30); Charles Chesnutt sent a copy of The Marrow of Tradition to Congress (104); James Weldon Johnson wrote The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man while serving as an American consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua (206).

In the first chapter, “Under the Covers of Forbidden Desire: Interracial Unions as Surrogates,” Paulin shows that miscegenation was viewed as a threat to the family and the nation it represented. In the Civil War era, America was figured as a divided house and as a mixed race. The title character of Dion Boucicault’s 1859 play The Octoroon embodies and inspires transgression: the other characters respond to her resistance to classification by revolting against their own classes — and races and genders (13, 10). Both of Alcott’s 1863 short stories, “M.L.” and “My Contraband,” feature white women who desire mixed-race men and their own liberation from patriarchal society (32, 44).

In the book’s second chapter, “Clear Definitions for an Anxious World: Late Nineteenth-Century Surrogacy,” Paulin describes how Americans dramatized national issues on an international stage. In the period between Reconstruction and Plessy v. Ferguson, they imagined Europe as a place where miscegenation originated or where it could settle and be resolved. The ambiguous racial status of the heroines of Bartley Campbell’s 1882 play The White Slave and William Dean Howells’s 1892 novel An Imperative Duty are resolved through marriage. In the former, a man declares his granddaughter (fathered by a foreigner and born abroad) to be his slave’s daughter to hide her illegitimate birth; her whiteness and their property are redeemed when she marries her grandfather’s adopted son (70–71). In the latter, a woman who learns that her mother was an octoroon chooses marriage to a white man and emigration to Europe over the cause of black uplift (87).

In chapter 3, “Staging the Unspoken Terror,” Paulin finds that Americans at the turn of the century connected the future of the nation’s government to the issue of miscegenation (102). This is the first chapter to present texts by a black writer and a white writer who take opposing positions, even if they foresee the same outcome: In Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, a white woman is killed (and rumored to have been…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Respecting and Celebrating Black Writing and Storytelling presented by Dr Anita Heiss

Posted in Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Oceania on 2015-07-08 19:35Z by Steven

Respecting and Celebrating Black Writing and Storytelling presented by Dr Anita Heiss

Flinders University
182 Victoria Square
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
2015-07-09, 18:00-19:00 ACDT (Local Time)


Anita Heiss

A NAIDOC Week event co-hosted by Yunggorendi First Nations Centre with the School of Humanities and Creative Arts

Anita will address staff, students and members of the community for NAIDOC Week around this year’s theme: We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate.

This seminar will discuss the ways in which Aboriginal authors across genres write about concepts of space, respect for place and connection to country, and why we should be celebrating this new Australian literature…

For more information, click here.

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Review: Misty Copeland Debuts as Odette/Odile in ‘Swan Lake’

Posted in Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-29 22:05Z by Steven

Review: Misty Copeland Debuts as Odette/Odile in ‘Swan Lake’

The New York Times
2015-06-25

Alastair Macaulay, Dance Critic


Misty Copeland and James Whiteside in “Swan Lake.” Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times

When Misty Copeland made her New York debut in the double role of Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake,” the most epic role in world ballet, two aspects of the performance on Wednesday afternoon proved marvelous. One: that it all happened successfully. Two: the curtain calls.

Let everyone know henceforth that an African-American ballerina has danced this exalted role with American Ballet Theater at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House. Let everyone know that other African-American dancers, Raven Wilkinson (who danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955-61) and Lauren Anderson (who, with the Houston Ballet, was the first African-American ballerina to become a principal of an American ballet company), brought her bouquets onstage. And let everyone know that her fellow dancers shared her applause with pride. (The enthusiasm and affection shown by James Whiteside, who partnered her as Prince Siegfried, was especially engaging.)

As Odette, the Swan Queen, Ms. Copeland has moments of courage and grandeur when you feel the heroic scale of Tchaikovsky’s celebrated drama. She runs boldly around the stage like a creature accustomed to vast space; she raises her arms with the epic sweep of mighty wings. In other respects, she’s admirable but without striking individuality. The substance of “Swan Lake” is there, but in potential. I hope she dances it again and reveals more in it…

Read the entire review here.

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White Womanhood Revised

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-16 02:08Z by Steven

White Womanhood Revised

Avidly: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel
2015-06-15

Brigitte Fielder, Assistant Professor
Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Whatever else we might say about it, let’s not forget this: Rachel Dolezal’s story is a decidedly American one. Here, I refer not only to story of Dolezal’s racial passing, but also to how Dolezal’s story triggers and reveals America’s racial fascinations. Whatever Dolezal’s motives or ethics, our scrutiny of Dolezal’s race echoes a long history of parsing race in the United States more generally.

Much of the conversation about Dolezal proceeds within long-standing US assumptions about how race “works”: if her biological parents are “really” white people, then so is she, and therefore she cannot be black. While Dolezal is a member of an interracial family, she seems to have no mixed-race African American genealogy, and this is the single deciding factor about her own race. In effect, these assumptions tell us that there is no way for a woman who was born white (i.e., to white parents) to become black. For her to claim blackness, then, is a conscious act of deception.

But for all the clarity these assumptions provide, they are not the only American story about race and womanhood. Even as Americans want race to be simple and essentialist, American racial ideologies rarely allows it to be. Race, Dolezal’s story reminds us, is connected to the history of racial justice work and interracial collaboration, and complicated by relations of power and privilege. Her story also reminds us how race is connected to not only biological relationships, but also to social relationships. For a scholar of race and nineteenth-century literature like myself, Dolezal’s complex (and confusing) story calls to mind other stories of white womanhood revised.

Consider how Dolezal’s American Story aligns with this fictional one: Kate Chopin’s 1893 short story, “Désirée’s Baby.” In the story, Désirée, a woman of unknown parentage, is adopted into a respectable white family and marries the wealthy son of slaveholders, Armand Aubigny. When Désirée and Armand’’s baby begins to show signs of being mixed-race, Armand argues that, because the baby does not look white, it is not white. The appearance of Désirée’s baby calls Désirée’s race into question…

Read the entire article here.

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The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-06-14 16:51Z by Steven

The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

University of Georgia Press
2016-01-15
248 pages
8 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-4896-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-4897-1

Lisa Ze Winters, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

Exploring the geographies, genealogies, and concepts of race and gender of the African diaspora produced by the Atlantic slave trade

Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora.

Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities.

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The Time of the Multiracial

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-06-01 22:20Z by Steven

The Time of the Multiracial

American Literary History
Published Online: 2015-06-01
DOI: 10.1093/alh/ajv026

Habiba Ibrahim, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington, Seattle

Habiba Ibrahim is the author of  Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism (2012). Her current book project, Oceanic Lifespans, examines how age and racial blackness have been mutually constituted.

These three recent studies all read how mixed racialism expresses and challenges the terms of US nationalism during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Collectively, they account for a period when the nation developed as a global force through a series of racializing projects, implemented through intra- and international war, imperialist expansion and conquest, and the consolidation of the color line at home. Tropes such as miscegenation, tragic mulatta, and genres of mixedness such as the “racial romance” (Sheffer 3) reveal a key aspect of the cultural imagination during the turbulent era that led up to and inaugurated the “American Century.” Figures of deviant intimacy—interracial sex, incest, same-sex filiation—and figures of gender, such as the mulatto/a, and the tragic muse revealed the cultural outcomes of the unfinished project of nation building. All of these studies take racial mixedness and its correlating categories as key analytical starting points for unmasking the neutrality or invisibility of state power. Thus, they bring to mind the urgency of the current moment: what analytics can interrupt the post-ness—postracialism, postfeminism, and postidentitarianism—of the present?

1. Neoliberalism, Postidentity

Twenty years ago, mixed racialism first appealed to literary scholars because it offered a critical space in which to explore the era’s political contradictions and transitions. During the heyday of the so-called multiracial movement, key developments in the cultural politics of identity were well under way. The culture wars were still raging with neoconservative moralists and left-of-center liberals vying for influence over social and political life. At the same time, neoconservatives…

Read or purchase the review of the three books here.

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