Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trojan Flags for Cultural Study

[by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.]

When policemen turn their backs to a mayor at the funeral of a police officer slain in the line of duty, is this symbolic act to be “read” as a sign of anger, disrespect, and resentment? Is it the equivalent of a jazz musician’s turning his back to an audience as he produces exquisite sounds? Is this positioning of the body in uniform, an embodiment of law and order, subject to decoding? The gesture is broadcast in the public sphere of television. Is it to be interpreted as a warning that American social dynamics are minimizing prospects for civic communication? Is ours a society wherein anything is everything? Is the turning of the back actually a turning back to a pre-history?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Black Poetry after the Black Arts Movement

[by Meredith Wiggins]

Some of the biggest names in African American poetry will converge on KU this summer when the Project on the History of Black Writing hosts a two-week institute on the subject of Black Poetry after the Black Arts Movement.

And HBW hopes that you'll be a part of it.

Sponsored by a $156,000 grant from the National Endowment on the Humanities, the residential institute will be held July 19 through August 1. The NEH Summer Scholars, a group of 25 college and university teachers selected to take part, will join more than two dozen scholars to study how Black poetry both reflects and impacts social change.

For more information about the institute and about how to apply, follow the jump!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Black Writing and Blues Allegory

[by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.]

American politics will popularize exegesis in 2015, and so too might the publication of Toni Morrison’s eleventh novel, God Help the Child.

Scheduled for release in April by Alfred A. Knopf, the novel rebroadcasts the title of a song written in 1939 by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr., “God Bless the Child,” and recorded for the Okeh label in May 1941. The wheels of ideological state apparatus turn so rapidly that several commentators have confused the two titles as they assure us that Morrison’s novel is an instant classic. The pre-publication “leak” from Knopf contains a tantalizing summary of plot and characters. It encourages Morrison scholars and other critical readers to sharpen their tools and to engage the novel by way of allegorical readings.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King 2015: A Different Kind of Eulogy

[by Maryemma Graham]

When Sojourner Truth took the podium at the Women’s Rights convention in Akron, Ohio, 1851, she became in an instant the quintessential symbol of triple jeopardy: she was a former slave, she was black and she was a woman. She made women and the anti-slavery community uncomfortable because she refused to keep the issues of slavery and women’s rights separate. Exposing her breasts to punctuate her womanhood, she left an indelible imprint on history. The words “Ain’t I a woman?” remain that continuous reminder that building a more equitable society is our ongoing work.  Truth was relentless and fearless, traits that are hard to come by.