Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oprah Winfrey and The Color Purple

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Since her debut acting role in the 1985 Steven Spielberg directed film, based on Alice Walker’s 1983 novel, Oprah Winfrey’s involvement movie adaption of novels has been active. She has served as both an actress and producer. Similar to her involvement with Morrison’s works, Winfrey’s has demonstrated an extended connection to The Color Purple.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oprah’s Book Club and Toni Morrison

[By Kenton Rambsy]

“Oprah’s Book Club” contributed greatly to helping well-known and lesser-known black writers gain exposure to mainstream reading audiences. Founded in September 1996, Winfrey’s book club ran until December 2010, and several different writers were featured on her talk show to discuss the selected texts. Four of Toni Morrison’s novels were featured as selections in the book club. Morrison’s sales, as a result, increased substantially. More significantly, Morrison’s exposure to wider audiences increased.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oprah Winfrey: A Sponsor of African American Novelists

[By Kenton Rambsy]

There are many different ways to talk about the growing popularity of African American literature over the years. We can talk about Pulitzer Prize Winners such as Alice Walker (1983) and Edward P. Jones (2004). We could talk about the coverage of works by writers such as Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead in the New York Times Book Review. We could focus on writers such as Charles Johnson and Ishmael Reed who have received Guggenheim Fellowships.

Timeline: Oprah Winfrey and African-American Literature

[By Kenton Rambsy]

1985 —  Winfrey plays the role of Sofia in the film The Color Purple based on Alice Walker's 1982 novel.

1986 —  Winfrey plays Mrs. Thomas in the remake of the film Native Son based on Richard Wright’s 1940 novel.

95 Dates of Importance in African American Novel History

[By Howard and Kenton Rambsy]

1852The Heroic Slave, a novella by Frederick Douglass, is published in 1852 by John P. Jewett and Company. The novella resembles a slave narrative even though it is a work of fiction.

1853- William Wells Brown—escaped slave from Kentucky—publishes Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter in London. His novel is considered the first to ever be published by an African American.

Friday, May 25, 2012

15 Dates of Importance, 1940 – 1970

[By Howard Rambsy]

1940 – Native Son by Richard Wright is published; the work is a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.  

1941 –  Orson Welles directs stage adaption of Native Son by Richard Wright. Actor Canada Lee stars as Bigger Thomas.

15 Dates of Importance, 1912- 1939

[By Kenton Rambsy]

1913- Author and director Oscar Micheaux publishes his first novel, Conquest: The Story Of A Negro Pioneer, through The Woodruff Press. The novel is published anonymously and is based on his life as a homesteader.

1918- Hope’s Highway by Sarah Lee Brown Fleming is published by Neale Publishing Company

Thursday, May 24, 2012

10 Dates of Importance, 1852 – 1912

[By Kenton Rambsy]

1852- The Heroic Slave, a novella by Frederick Douglass, is published in 1852 by John P. Jewett and Company. The novella resembles a slave narrative even though it is a work of fiction.

1853- William Wells Brown—escaped slave from Kentucky—publishes Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter in London. His novel is considered the first to ever be published by an African American.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

25 Dates of Importance, 1996 – 2012

[By Howard Rambsy]

1996 – The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty is published. 

1996 – Oprah Winfrey starts “Oprah’s Book Club,” featuring book for her viewers to read and discuss. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

15 Dates of Importance, 1986 – 1995

[By Kenton Rambsy]


1986 - A second adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son is made with Victor Love playing the role of Bigger Thomas and Oprah Winfrey playing his mother, Mrs. Thomas. 

1988 – Toni Morrison wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel Beloved.

Monday, May 21, 2012

15 Dates of Importance, 1970 – 1985

[By Howard Rambsy]

1970The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Publisher.

1971 - The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines is published.

Timeline Series—African American Novel History

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The importance of chronology of African American literary history has become all the more important to me after viewing “The Timeline of African American Poetry.” My older brother, an associate professor of African American literature and director of Black Studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, recently compiled a timeline of significant events in African American poetry that spans from 1854 to 2012.

My work with the HBW deals with the recovery of African American novels, so naturally, I followed his lead and created a timeline. Over the next week, I have partnered with Howard to create a series of entries that highlights significant events in African American novel history.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zora Neale Hurston Revisited: A Collection of HBW Posts on Hurston

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Zora Neale Hurston existed in obscurity for years after her death with very few people doing extensive scholarship on her work. When Alice Walker published her 1975 article “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” she helped to revive interest in the late writer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Richard Wright Revisited: A Collection of HBW Posts on Wright

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The success of Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) catapulted him to international success. Native Son has been credited as being one of the first most successful protest novels by in American literary history. The novel immediately became a best seller with over 250, 000 copies of the book sold with the first month of its release.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Toni Morrison Revisited: A Collection of HBW Posts on Morrison

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Over the course of the past year, Toni Morrison has been a major focus for HBW blog posts as we seek to foster engaged scholarship on black novels. Morrison writer has become a totem of black literature since her 1970 novel debut with The Bluest Eye.

Since then, Morrison has been the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize (1987), a Nobel Prize in Literature (1993), and it was announced in 2012 that she would be the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest award for a civilian.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Coverage... Of Toni Morrison's Home

[By Kenton Rambsy]

This May, Nobel Prize Winning writer Toni Morrison released her 10th novel, Home. The relatively short novel (approximately 160 pages) offers alternative visions of American history focusing on racial and social tensions after the Korean War.

Set in the 1950s, the novel disrupts the popular historical narrative that this period in America was characterized by national harmony and prosperity.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recap: Black Literary Suite—Wikipedia Edition

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The Project on the History of Black Writing teamed up with the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Kansas to host its latest Black Literary Suite (BLS) from March 15- April 27. The most recent suite focused on Wikipedia and African American Literature.

In the “100 Novels Project,” 49 of the novels have Wikipediapages. “The Black Literary Suite: Wikipedia Edition” examined the particular ways in which the online website presents the novels. Keeping with our presentation format, the exhibit was a walk-through exhibit where spectators were able to use MP3 players to guide themselves, independently, through 14 panels.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Women and Performance in Hip Hop: An Interview with Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley Part II

[By Alysha Griffin]
Today, I conclude my Women in Hip-Hop series by providing part II of my interview with Nicole Hodges Persley. I continue to ask her about the performative aspects of hip-hop and how does the interplay of lyrics, videos, and performances come together to create overarching impressions of women’s place in the evolving culture.

“Raising the Roof: Black Women’s Voices in Hip Hop” series has aimed to provide alternative visions of black women and hip-hop.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Women and Performance in Hip Hop: An Interview with Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley Part I

[By Alysha Griffin]

 In the second interview I conducted for “Raising the Roof: Black Women’s Voices in Hip Hop,” I interviewed Nicole Hodges Persley. Persley  is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas.  She teaches courses on hip-hop, acting, African American theater, race and performance and improvisation theory. Her research and performance works address the impact of racial, ethnic and national identity on performance practices in theatre, television and film. She has published articles on Jay-Z and Suzan-Lori Parks with forthcoming work on Nikki S. Lee and Jean Genet.

Her research on performance culture provides new insight for how we think about women’s roles in hip-hop culture.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Women, Hip Hop, and Music: An Interview with Dr. Tammy Kernodle Part II

[By Alysha Griffin]

On yesterday, I provided Part I of my interview with Musicologist, Tammy Kernodle. Today, I provide part II of the interview where I conclude asking Kernodle specific questions about the performative aspects of hip-hop culture as it relates to black women.

“Raising the Roof: Black Women’s Voices in Hip Hop” series seeks to interpret the opportunities and challenges black women encounter participating in hip-hop culture.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Women, Hip Hop, and Music: An Interview with Dr. Tammy Kernodle Part I

[By Alysha Griffin]
For “Raising the Roof: Black Women’s Voices in Hip Hop” series, I interviewed Tammy Kernodle. Kernolde, an Associate Professor of Musicology at Miami University, Oxford, has served as the Scholar in Residence for the Women in Jazz Initiative at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri and has lectured extensively on the operas of William Grant Still, the life and religious compositions of jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams.

Given Kernodle’s background, her perspective on black women in hip-hop culture is informed by a larger historical and social tradition of black women and music culture in general.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Construction Workers: Black Women Building Community

[By Alysha Griffin]
Hip Hop has become notorious for its treatment of women. Whether through misogynistic images or the large exclusion of women in rap music, Hip Hop has become “Public Enemy #1” in the women’s fight for progress. With all this critique of Hip Hop, however, I think it is important to acknowledge those women who have navigated the tight spaces in Hip Hop culture. By comparing tropes in works of literature written by black women with those works of female Hip Hop artists, it may be possible to reclaim agency that is lost in the mainstream interpretations of Hip Hop. For this reason, HBW launches the series “Raising the Roof: Black Women’s Voices in Hip Hop.”