Wayne State University Press

African American Life Series

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African American Life Series

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Bearing Witness to African American Literature

Validating and Valorizing Its Authority, Authenticity, and Agency

Bernard W. Bell

Bearing Witness to African American Literature: Validating and Valorizing Its Authority, Authenticity, and Agency collects twenty-three of Bernard W. Bell’s lectures and essays that were first presented between 1968 and 2008. From his role in the culture wars as a graduate student activist in the Black Studies Movement to his work in the transcultural Globalization Movement as an international scholar and Fulbright cultural ambassador in Spain, Portugal, and China, Bell’s long and inspiring journey traces the modern institutional origins and the contemporary challengers of African American literary studies. This volume is made up of five sections, including chapters on W. E. B. DuBois’s theory and trope of double consciousness, an original theory of residually oral forms for reading the African American novel, an argument for an African Americentric vernacular and literary tradition, and a deconstruction of the myths of the American melting pot and literary mainstream. Bell considers texts by contemporary writers like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, William Styron, James Baldwin, and Jean Toomer, as well as works by Mark Twain, Frederick Douglas, and William Faulkner, In a style that ranges from lyricism to the classic jeremiad, Bell emphasizes that his work bears the imprint of many major influences, including his mentor, poet and scholar Sterling A. Brown, and W. E. B. DuBois. Taken together, the chapters demonstrate Bell’s central place as a revisionist African American literary and cultural theorist, historian, and critic. Bearing Witness to African American Literature will be an invaluable introduction to major issues in the African American literary tradition for scholars of American, African American, and cultural studies.

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Churches and Urban Government in Detroit and New York, 1895-1994

Henry J. Pratt Preface by Ronald Brown

Beginning in the 1890s, the social gospel movement and its secular counterpart, the Progressive movement, set the stage for powerful church and city governance connections. What followed during the next 100 years was the emergence of religious bodies as an important instrument for influencing City Hall on moral and social issues. Churches and Urban Government compares the governing styles of Detroit and New York City from 1895 to 1994 and looks at the steps city-wide religious bodies took to advance the interests of their communities and their local government during this chaotic period in urban history. Detroit and New York City make for a very interesting case study when casting the two cities’ many similarities against their contrasting urban governance styles. What these cities share is a longstanding liberal political culture and comparable ethnic and racial diversity as well as large populations of Catholics and Protestants. Emphasizing the role of Black churches, Henry J. Pratt—with additional material from Ronald Brown—examines how immigration, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement all nurtured this developing link between religion and politics, helping churches evolve into leadership roles within these metropolitan centers.

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The Concept of Self

A Study of Black Identity and Self-Esteem

Richard L. Allen

Institutional racism has had a major impact on the development of African American self-esteem and group identity. Through the years, African Americans have developed strong, tenacious concepts of self partially based on African cultural and philosophical retentions and as a reaction to historical injustices. The Concept of Self examines the historical basis for the widely misunderstood ideas of how African Americans think of themselves individually, and how they relate to being part of a group that has been subjected to challenges of their very humanity. Richard Allen examines past scholarship on African American identity to explore a wide range of issues leading to the formation of an individual and collective sense of self. Allen traces the significance of social forces that have impinged on the lives of African Americans and points to the uniqueness of their position in American society. He then focuses on the results from the National Survey of Black Americans—a national survey of African Americans on a wide range of political, social, and psychological issues—to develop a model of African self. Allen explores the idea of double-consciousness as put forth by W.E.B. DuBois against the more recent debates of Afrocentricity or an African-centered consciousness. He proposes a set of interrelated hypotheses regarding how African Americans might use an African worldview for the upliftment of Africans in the Diaspora. The Concept of Self will interest students and scholars of African American studies, sociology and population studies

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From Bourgeois to Boojie

Black Middle-Class Performances

Edited by Vershawn Ashanti Young with Bridget Harris Tsemo

Examines how generations of African Americans perceive, proclaim, and name the combined performance of race and class across genres.

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The Golden Underground

Poems by Anthony Butts

New from accomplished poet Anthony Butts, a collection of modern free verse with an attention to formal syntax and a keen religious sensibility.

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Ideology and Change

The Transformation of the Caribbean Left

Perry Mars

Ideology and Change provides the first comprehensive record and analysis of the experience of leftist political movements, organizations, and trends in the English-speaking Caribbean. Perry Mars views the Left as a dynamic force that has made indelible contributions toward advancing democracy since the 1940s, and he here examines the contributions of leftist organizations at both theoretical and practical levels. He identifies their role in Caribbean political culture and processes, the problems they face, and the strategies they employ toward political change within a hazardous political and social environment.

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If We Must Die

From Bigger Thomas to Biggie Smalls

Aimé J. Ellis

Investigates a variety of texts in which the self-image of poor, urban black men in the U.S. is formed within, by, and against a culture of racial terror and state violence.

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Just for a Thrill

Poems

Geoffrey Jacques

“Geoffrey Jacques is a subtle, sophisticated poet who has read widely and has taken his cue from some of the most important vanguard poets of the past century and a half—Whitman, Breton, Césaire, Stein, Olson, Baraka, and others. He has digested and assimilated the lessons to be learned from their work while finding a way that is very much his own. The result is a distinctive contemporary voice whose angular mode of address and unerring touch edify as much as they impress. This book presents both in full flower. Techniques of detour and indirection productively encounter an aesthetic of sampling, quotation, and juxtaposition, a language-foregrounding tack that draws a range of domains and discourses into its mix. Song titles, clichés, catch phrases, bureaucratic boilerplate, advertising jargon, office chat, song lyrics, legalese, and other components of the linguistic atmosphere we live in find their way into the work, suggesting an overmediated, gone-before-it-gets-here present. Just for a Thrill is a substantial gathering of Jacques’ work of recent years—a welcome breakthrough book by a poet whose work has appeared mainly in little magazines and limited chapbook editions over the past dozen or so years, a poet whose work deserves greater attention. We’re fortunate to have so galvanic a collection of Jacques’ poetry in an edition that promises to reach a wider audience.” —From the foreword by Nathaniel Mackey

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Keepin' It Hushed

The Barbershop and African American Hush Harbor Rhetoric

Vorris L. Nunley

Examines the barbershop as a rhetorical site in African American culture across genres, including fiction, film, poetry, and theater.

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Let’s Flip the Script

An African American Discourse on Language, Literature, and Learning

Keith Gilyard

In Let's Flip the Script, respected poet and essayist Keith Gilyard broadens the debate about language and education. Fusing insights derived from practical experience with knowledge drawn from an impressive and interdisciplinary array of texts, he examines-always with an eye on the state of African America-connections among language, politics, expressive culture, and pedagogy. This book is a rousing contribution to the African American intellectual tradition.

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