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Blue Ridge Folklife

Ted Olson

<p align="left">In the years immediately preceding the founding of the American nation the Blue Ridge region, which stretches through large sections of Virginia and North Carolina and parts of surrounding states along the Appalachian chain, was the American frontier. In colonial times, it was settled by hardy, independent people from several cultural backgrounds that did not fit with the English-dominated society. The landless, the restless, and the rootless followed Daniel Boone, the most famous of the settlers, and pushed the frontier westward.

<p align="left">The settlers who did not migrate to new lands became geographically isolated and politically and economically marginalized. Yet they created fulfilling lives for themselves by forging effective and oftentimes sophisticated folklife traditions, many of which endure in the region today.

<p align="left">In 1772 the Blue Ridge was the site of the Watauga Association, often cited as the first free and democratic non-native government on the American continent. In 1780 Blue Ridge pioneers helped win the Revolutionary War for the patriots by defeating Patrick Ferguson's army of British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. When gold was discovered in the southernmost section of the Blue Ridge, America experienced its first gold rush and the subsequent tragic displacement of the region's aboriginal people.

<p align="left">Having been spared by the coincidence of geology and topography from the more environmentally damaging manifestations of industrialization, coal mining, and dam building, the Blue Ridge region still harbors scenic natural beauty as well as vestiges of the earliest cultures of southern Appalachia.

<p align="left">As it describes the most characteristic and significant verbal, customary, and material traditions, this fascinating, fact-filled book traces the historical development of the region's distinct folklife.

<p align="left">Ted Olson is a college instructor, folklorist, freelance writer, and former Blue Ridge Parkway ranger.

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"Born in a Mighty Bad Land"

The Violent Man in African American Folklore and Fiction

Jerry H. Bryant

The figure of the violent man in the African American imagination has a long history. He can be found in 19th-century bad man ballads like "Stagolee" and "John Hardy," as well as in the black convict recitations that influenced "gangsta" rap. "Born in a Mighty Bad Land" connects this figure with similar characters in African American fiction. Many writers -- McKay and Hurston in the Harlem Renaissance; Wright, Baldwin, and Ellison in the '40s and '50s; Himes in the '50s and '60s -- saw the "bad nigger" as an archetypal figure in the black imagination and psyche. "Blaxploitation" novels in the '70s made him a virtually mythical character. More recently, Mosley, Wideman, and Morrison have presented him as ghetto philosopher and cultural adventurer. Behind the folklore and fiction, many theories have been proposed to explain the source of the bad man's intra-racial violence. Jerry H. Bryant explores all of these elements in a wide-ranging and illuminating look at one of the most misunderstood figures in African American culture.

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Both Sides of the Border

A Scattering of Texas Folklore

Edited by Francis Edward Abernethy and Kenneth L. Untiedt

Texas has a large population who has lived on both sides of the border and created a folkloric mix that makes Texas unique. Both Sides of the Border gets its name from its emphasis on recently researched Tex-Mex folklore. But we recognize that Texas has other borders besides the Rio Grande. We use that title with the folklorist’s knowledge that all of this state’s songs, tales, and traditions have lived and prospered on the other sides of Texas borders at one time or another before they crossed the rivers and became “ours.” Chapters are organized thematically, and include favorite storytellers like James Ward Lee, Thad Sitton, and Jerry Lincecum. Lee’s beloved “Hell is for He-Men” appears here, along with Sitton’s informative essay on Texas freedman’s settlements. Both Sides of the Border contains something to delight everyone interested in Texas folklore.

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Breaking the Magic Spell

Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales

Jack Zipes

This revised, expanded, and updated edition of the 1979 landmark Breaking the Magic Spell examines the enduring power of fairy tales and the ways they invade our subjective world. In seven provocative essays, Zipes discusses the importance of investigating oral folk tales in their socio-political context and traces their evolution into literary fairy tales, a metamorphosis that often diminished the ideology of the original narrative. Zipes also looks at how folk tales influence our popular beliefs and the ways they have been exploited by a corporate media network intent on regulating the mystical elements of the stories. He examines a range of authors, including the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Ernst Bloch, Tolkien, Bettelheim, and J.K. Rowling to demonstrate the continuing symbiotic relationship between folklore and literature.

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Brown Boys and Rice Queens

Spellbinding Performance in the Asias

Eng-Beng Lim

A transnational study of Asian performance shaped by the homoerotics of orientalism, Brown Boys and Rice Queens focuses on the relationship between the white man and the native boy. Eng-Beng Lim unpacks this as the central trope for understanding colonial and cultural encounters in 20th and 21st century Asia and its diaspora. Using the native boy as a critical guide, Lim formulates alternative readings of a traditional Balinese ritual, postcolonial Anglophone theatre in Singapore, and performance art in Asian America.
 
Tracing the transnational formation of the native boy as racial fetish object across the last century, Lim follows this figure as he is passed from the hands of the colonial empire to the postcolonial nation-state to neoliberal globalization. Read through such figurations, the traffic in native boys among white men serves as an allegory of an infantilized and emasculated Asia, subordinate before colonial whiteness and modernity. Pushing further, Lim addresses the critical paradox of this entrenched relationship that resides even within queer theory itself by formulating critical interventions around “Asian performance.”
  
Eng-Beng Lim is Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University, and a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Department of East Asian Studies, and Department of American Studies. He is also a Gender and Sexuality Studies board member at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women.
 
In the Sexual Cultures series

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Brutality Garden

Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture

Christopher Dunn

In the late 1960s, Brazilian artists forged a watershed cultural movement known as Tropicalia. Music inspired by that movement is today enjoying considerable attention at home and abroad. Few new listeners, however, make the connection between this music and the circumstances surrounding its creation, the most violent and repressive days of the military regime that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. With key manifestations in theater, cinema, visual arts, literature, and especially popular music, Tropicalia dynamically articulated the conflicts and aspirations of a generation of young, urban Brazilians.

Focusing on a group of musicians from Bahia, an impoverished state in northeastern Brazil noted for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, Christopher Dunn reveals how artists including Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Ze created this movement together with the musical and poetic vanguards of Sao Paulo, Brazil's most modern and industrialized city. He shows how the tropicalists selectively appropriated and parodied cultural practices from Brazil and abroad in order to expose the fissure between their nation's idealized image as a peaceful tropical "garden" and the daily brutality visited upon its citizens.

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Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World

Richard Jones-Bamman

Banjo music possesses a unique power to evoke a bucolic, simpler past. The artisans who build banjos for old-time music stand at an unusual crossroads ”asked to meet the modern musician's needs while retaining the nostalgic qualities so fundamental to the banjo's sound and mystique. Richard Jones-Bamman ventures into workshops and old-time music communities to explore how banjo builders practice their art. His interviews and long-time personal immersion in the musical culture shed light on long-overlooked aspects of banjo making. What is the banjo builder's role in the creation of a specific musical community? What techniques go into the styles of instruments they create? Jones-Bamman explores these questions and many others while sharing the ways an inescapable sense of the past undergirds the performance and enjoyment of old-time music. Along the way he reveals how antimodernism remains integral to the music's appeal and its making.

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Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum

Vol. 14 (2007) through current issue

Buildings & Landscapes examines the built world-houses and cities, farmsteads and alleys—churches and courthouses, subdivisions and shopping malls—that make up the spaces that most people experience every day. Strongly based on fieldwork and archival work that views buildings as windows into human life and culture, articles are written by historians, preservationists, architects, cultural and urban geographers, cultural anthropologists, and others whose work involves the documentation, analysis and interpretation of the built world. Formerly titled Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Buildings & Landscapes is presently an annual publication that will begin publishing two issues a year beginning in 2009.

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Built with Faith

Italian American Imagination and Catholic Material Culture in New York City

Over the course of 130 years, Italian American Catholics in New York City have developed a varied repertoire of devotional art and architecture to create community-based sacred spaces in their homes and neighborhoods. These spaces exist outside of but in relationship to the consecrated halls of local parishes and are sites of worship in conventionally secular locations. Such ethnic building traditions and urban ethnic landscapes have long been neglected by all but a few scholars. Joseph Sciorra’s Built with Faith offers a place-centric, ethnographic study of the religious material culture of New York City’s Italian American Catholics.
            Sciorra spent thirty-five years researching these community art forms and interviewing Italian immigrant and U.S.-born Catholics. By documenting the folklife of this group, Sciorra reveals how Italian Americans in the city use expressive culture and religious practices to transform everyday urban space into unique, communal sites of ethnically infused religiosity. The folk aesthetics practiced by individuals within their communities are integral to understanding how art is conceptualized, implemented, and esteemed outside of museum and gallery walls. Yard shrines, sidewalk altars, Nativity presepi, Christmas house displays, a stone-studded grotto, and neighborhood processions—often dismissed as kitsch or prized as folk art—all provide examples of the vibrant and varied ways contemporary Italian Americans use material culture, architecture, and public ceremonial display to shape the city’s religious and cultural landscapes.
            Written in an accessible style that will appeal to general readers and scholars alike, Sciorra’s unique study contributes to our understanding of how value and meaning are reproduced at the confluences of everyday life.
 
Joseph Sciorra is the director of Academic and Cultural Programs at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College. He is the editor of Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives and co-editor of Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women's Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora.

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The Bunraku Puppet Theatre of Japan

Honor, Vengeance, and Love in Four Plays of the 18th and 19th Centuries

translated and annotated by Stanleigh H. Jones

The four plays presented here—“Moritsuna’s Camp,” “The Mountains Scene,” “Vengeance at Iga Pass,” “The True Tale of Asagao”—were first performed between 1769 and 1832, a time when the Japanese puppet theatre known as Bunraku was beginning to lose its pre-eminence to Kabuki. During this period, however, several important puppet plays were created that went on to become standards in both the Bunraku and Kabuki repertoires; three are found in this volume. This span of some sixty-odd years was also a formative one in the development of how plays were presented, an important feature in the modern staging of works from the traditional plebeian theatre. Only a handful of complete and uncut plays—often as much as ten hours long—are produced in Bunraku or Kabuki nowadays. Included here is one of these. There are also two examples of the much more common practice of staging a single popular act or scene from a much longer drama that itself is seldom, if ever, performed in its entirety today.

Kabuki, while better known outside Japan, has been a great beneficiary of the puppet theatre, borrowing perhaps as much as half of its body of work from Bunraku dramas. Bunraku, in turn, has raided the Kabuki repertoire but to a far more modest degree. The fourth play in this collection, “Asagao,” is an instance of this uncommon reverse borrowing. Moreover, it is an example of yet another way in which some plays have come to be presented: a coherent subplot of a longer work that gained an independent theatrical existence while its parent drama has since disappeared from the stage. These later eighteenth-century works display a continued development toward greater attention to the theatrical features of puppet plays as opposed to the earlier, more literary approach found most notably in the dramas of Chikamatsu Monzaemon (d. 1725).

Newly translated and illustrated for the general reader and the specialist, the plays in this volume are accompanied by informative introductions, extensive notes on stage action, and discussions of the various changes that Bunraku underwent, particularly in the latter half of the eighteenth century, its golden age. Because many of the features we see in Bunraku plays today owe their origins largely to the changes the theatre experienced more than two centuries ago, this volume will be a valuable reference for those interested in contemporary Japanese theatre as well as its historical antecedents.

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