Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Zora Neale Hurston and Short Stories

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday, I provided a complete list of short stories by Charles Chesnutt. I have extended my examination of identifying other writers in the “100 Novels Collection” that are also known as short story writers.

Today, I am providing a complete list of short stories written by Zora Neale Hurston.Even though many anthologies publish excerpts of Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston's most famous novel, she made her mark as a prolific short story writer early on in her career.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Charles Chesnutt and Short Stories

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The “100 Novels Project” celebrates the 158-year novel history of African American literature. Using the “100 Novels” bibliography, I analyze over 8 dozen assorted factors related to each particular novel as well as the author who wrote it.

Taking a closer look at the data I gathered on each author, I noticed that many of the authors in the collection utilized multiple literary genres to create artistic representations about black life. I then decided to focus more on the short fiction form and identify novelists who, in fact, were better known as short story writers. I have identified five authors who were/are better known as short story writers, but occasionally wrote novels.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Lines of 6 Novels

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday, I focused on “first lines” of six canonical novels in the “100 Novels Collection.” Today, I continue my conversation by focusing on the last lines of those novels.” The last lines of the novel are just as telling as the opening lines.

For instance, consider how in the beginning of Invisible Man begins with “I” and ends with “you.” Song of Solomon begins with the concept of flight and ends with flight. Additionally, Native Son begins and ends with an awakening—in the beginning a physical awakening and in the end an awakening to political consciousness. Closer attention to these factors reveal larger traditions of African American literature in how novel endings connect to its beginning.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

First Lines of 6 Novels

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Today, I have chosen to identify the first lines of six books in our “100 Novels Collection.” Extending the week’s posts on “word play” in African American literature, I have identified these specific lines to point out the similar and dissimilar ways in which black writers open their novels.

Specifically, I want to call attention to how the first lines of each novel set the tone of the events to follow by foreshadowing the identity crisis of each protagonist. Given the tragic history of slavery and the complex social and political relationships black people have endured in America, possibly, these writers opening lines are one possible way in which writers authenticate their fictive lives of black people.  Surveying a wide body of literature reveals other commonalities between black writers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Novels Written in African American Vernacular English

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The language choices black novelists make constitute a liberation from Eurocentric concepts of literature as they manipulates the narrative mode and Standard English dialect and rely more on African AmericanVernacular English (AAVE). The use of AAVE for the speech of novel characters helps to give voice to groups of people who are often times disregarded from mainstream culture. The language choices of black writers offer insight into the emotional and social thoughts of black Southern communities—communities of people who, during the time of these publications, were grossly overlooked, undervalued, and misrepresented in literary representations.   

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Memorable Character Names in 100 Novels Project

[By Kenton Rambsy]

With all of the attention on Blue Ivy—Jay Z and Beyonce’sdaughter—I got to thinking about the varied representations of characters and significance of names in African American literature. I began to look at the selections in the “100 Novels Project” and compiled a list of the most memorable character names in our collection.

Today, I chose to highlight five character names in five novels out of the “100 Novels Collection.” Surveying a list of names across a 153 history of African American history can lead insight into the artistic imagination of Morrison as well as the similar and dissimilar ways black writers create character personas.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Toni Morrison and Memorable Character Names

[By Kenton Rambsy]

In recent weeks, numerous blog sites, newspapers, and other online forums have been buzzing talking about Jay-Z and Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy. These sites have commented on the name and its significance to the superstar couple, with many saying since their favorite number is “4” the name “Ivy” is a play off of the roman numeral.

30 Days of 100 Novels

For the next 30 days, I will elaborate on the HBW’s “100 Novels Project” by presenting brief entries that focus on notable factors and trends from our project.

Word Play

Novel Authors Who are also Prominent Short Story Writers

Wikipedia Novels Pages
February 6—The Color Purple
February 8— Beloved
February 9— Invisible Man
February 10— Native Son

Wikipedia Author Pages
February 13— Alice Walker
February 14— Zora Neale Hurston
February 15— Toni Morrison
February 16— Ralph Ellison
February 17— Richard Wright
NYC: Novels By Region
February 20— NYC Novels
February 21— NYC by Decades

Black Figures Who Aren’t Primarily Known As Novelists
February 27— Frederick Douglass
February 28— Langston Hughes
February 29— Paul Laurence Dunbar
March 1— Edward P. Jones
March 2—Toni Cade Bambara

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Black Arts Enterprise—Professor Howard Rambsy

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Besides sharing parents and a last name with Howard Rambsy II, I had the opportunity to share the stage and serve on a panel of respondents with him at Make It Funky III. This experience gave me the opportunity to view Howard as more than an older sibling, but to also gain a deeper sense of the work he is doing. More importantly, I have come to understand how it extends our conceptions of African American literature and performative culture.

Professor Adam Bradley’s lecture focused largely on the linguistic aspects hip-hop and offered explanations for how/why scholars can interpret rap music as if it were poetry. Bradley advocated for innovation in the sense of adapting new approaches and creating new standards to study hip-hop culture and relate it to the larger field of literature.

Make It Funky III—Professor Adam Bradley

[By Kenton Rambsy]

I tend to take for granted that I am not an expert on rap music in its entirety. I play the music daily, attend concerts regularly, and read nearly every hip-hop blogs, but, often times, I neglect to fully comprehend that what I understand hip-hop to be in its current state is actually the product of years-and-years of artistic and cultural movements. Professor Adam Bradley’s scholarship has provided me with a foundation to build upon as I interrogate issues of language and how its bearing on rap music has relevance to my literary studies.

The KU Organizer—Professor Tony Bolden

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Professor of African and African American Studies TonyBolden is certainly a social artifact at the University of Kansas. By social artifact, I mean a witness to numerous social and artistic developments in black culture, a poet, a critic of black writing, as well as a mentor to undergrad and graduate students.

Bolden is a leading figure on campus, responsible for organizing events that integrate classroom learning and real world experiences. His annual public forum, Make It Funky, saw its third iteration this year on November 10 here at KU. Following suit of his book Afro-Blue which interrogates African American poetry, Make It Funky III addressed the question “Is rap music poetry?” This event was probably the most successful, yet. So successful, that if you arrived to the event “on-time,” you probably had to stand because there were no more available seats

I had the privilege to participate in event as respondent to the featured lecturer Professor Adam Bradley. In Bolden’s own words, “I always include students in anything I plan. It offers a chance for everyone to learn. Students learn from the professors. Professors learn from the students. It’s a collaborative community.”

Other panelists included, Professor Howard Rambsy II (Associate Professor of English, SIUE), Professor Nicole Hodges-Persely (Assistant Professor of Theatre, KU), and Glen North (Poet and Education Program Manager of American Jazz Museum, KC). Each panelist presented an alternative perspective that identified overlaps between rap music and poetry. Ultimately, the panelists pushed for those in attendance to understand that scholars of poetry and fans of rap music engage in similar intellectual practices as they analyze and interpret lyrics of rap/lines of poetry.

Professor Bolden reminds us that there are still far more conversations to be had about the state of black writing and music. For instance, Professors Bolden and Maryemma Graham organized a follow-up conversation (via skype) with Professor Bradley. Professors at KU similar to Bolden and Graham remind students like me of the importance of continued engagement in black studies.

The links below offer a brief video recap of Make It Funky III.

Video Design Credit: Brandon Hill—University Kansas Student of Film and Media Studies

The event was also sponsored by Project on the History of Black Writing, the Provost’s Office of Diversity and Equity, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Hall Center and the Departments of English.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ballers of the New School—Professor Thabiti Lewis

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! At the University of Kansas, athletic culture certainly influences the student body a great deal. Considering the very successful basketball team and other sports programs, students at KU have the unique opportunity to be firsthand spectators and critics of the Big 12 Conference and other Division I programs. In other words, the students can personally analyze the politics of sports culture and bear witness to the opportunities and challenges or the current system.

In an effort to engage the student body and consider the connections between sports, race, media, and politics, the HBW was the lead sponsor of “Can Michael Vick Be Forgiven? Race, Gender and Mythologies in American Sports Culture.” On October 24, 2011, Professor Thabiti Lewis gave a lecture that emphasized the active role the media plays in shaping the impressions of sports culture and, sometimes, creating misleading narratives surrounding black figures in particular.

A 2011 Recap of Public Events

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The year 2011 served as evidence that Black Studies is alive and well at the University of Kansas. There were a host of events on campus that emphasized the significance of integrating the study of black artistic culture with more traditional scholarship in the academy.

For the remainder of the week, the HBW will offer a video recap of events that the program either sponsored or co-sponsored to provide a glimpse of the innovative approaches professors and students are using at KU to engage the study of black culture.

January 18—
Black Literary Suite
Ballers of the New School—Professor Thabiti Lewis

January 19—
The KU Organizer—Professor Tony Bolden
Make It Funky III—Professor Adam Bradley
The Black Arts Enterprise—Professor Howard Rambsy II

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Aesthetic/Aesthetics/The (…..) Aesthetic: A Note for Emerging Scholars and Critics

1798, from Ger. Ästhetisch or Fr. esthétique, both from Gk. aisthetikos "sensitive, perceptive," from aisthanesthai "to perceive (by the senses or by the mind), to feel," from PIE *awis-dh-yo-, from base *au- "to perceive" (see audience).

Popularized in English by translation of Immanuel Kant, and used originally in the classically correct sense "the science which treats of the conditions of sensuous perception." Kant had tried to correct the term after Alexander Baumgarten had taken it in German to mean "criticism of taste" (1750s), but Baumgarten's sense attained popularity in English c.1830s (despite scholarly resistance) and removed the word from any philosophical base. Walter Pater used it (1868) to describe the late 19c. movement that advocated "art for art's sake," which further blurred the sense. Related: Aesthetically.
From Online Etymology Dictionary  http://www.etymonline.com

The Oxford English Dictionary also targets the classical sense of the word in its English translation --- “things perceptible by the senses, things material (as opposed to…things thinkable or immaterial), also perceptive, sharp in the senses.”  How wise was Herbert Spenser to proclaim in 1872 that “To deal fully with the psychology of aesthetics is out of the question.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Coverage Of... The Radical Martin Luther King

[By Kenton Rambsy]

In the summer of 2005, I had the privilege to attend the Tennessee American Legion Boys State program where I learned about state government, took part in leadership activities, and became more aware of what role I could play in the American political system. This particular summer stands out to me because during this summer program, I began to think critically about Martin Luther King and understand the radical negotiations he made as one of the leading figureheads of the Civil Rights Movement.