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From Slave Ship to Ghetto
DanceHall combines cultural geography, performance studies and cultural studies to examine performance culture across the Black Atlantic. Taking Jamaican dancehall music as its prime example, DanceHall reveals a complex web of cultural practices, politics, rituals, philosophies, and survival strategies that link Caribbean, African and African diasporic performance.
Combining the rhythms of reggae, digital sounds and rapid-fire DJ lyrics, dancehall music was popularized in Jamaica during the later part of the last century by artists such as Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Beenie Man and Buju Banton. Even as its popularity grows around the world, a detailed understanding of dancehall performance space, lifestyle and meanings is missing. Author Sonjah Stanley Niaah relates how dancehall emerged from the marginalized youth culture of Kingston’s ghettos and how it remains inextricably linked to the ghetto, giving its performance culture and spaces a distinct identity. She reveals how dancehall’s migratory networks, embodied practice, institutional frameworks, and ritual practices link it to other musical styles, such as American blues, South African kwaito, and Latin American reggaetòn. She shows that dancehall is part of a legacy that reaches from the dance shrubs of West Indian plantations and the early negro churches, to the taxi-dance halls of Chicago and the ballrooms of Manhattan. Indeed, DanceHall stretches across the whole of the Black Atlantic’s geography and history to produce its detailed portrait of dancehall in its local, regional, and transnational performance spaces.
A Book of Distinctions
Jack Foley’s The Dancer and the Dance: A Book of Distinctions deliberately challenges many conventional ways of thinking about poetry. Though extremely scholarly and aware of the “tradition,” Foley offers readings rooted in a consciousness which is simultaneously non academic and open to the new. “The self of this book,” he writes, “is not a unity but a multiplicity. Many people would agree with this idea of selfhood—the self as a ‘multiplicity of voices’—but clarification is still required as to how the concept of the self as multiplicity affects literary criticism, how it affects our actual reading of poems. It may be that the self we postulate as we read a poem contradicts the self we experience in the world; it is also possible that familiar poems may be experienced anew by being read in the light of multiplicity.” Foley’s explorations lead him into radically new readings of “canonic” work by poets such as Keats, Yeats and Mallarmé, into the world of opera, free jazz, New Formalism, and the writing of song lyrics, into “ethnic” literature, theater, and finally into problems of “spoken word” and “slam poetry.” Throughout, his point of view, initially controversial, becomes finally compelling. “It is possible,” he says quietly about the whole of Western culture, “that Plato was wrong, and that we must make an effort to think in a different way if we are to encounter reality at all.”
Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots
Sports fans love to don paint and feathers to cheer on the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Florida State Seminoles, and the Warriors and Chiefs of their hometown high schools. But outside the stadiums, American Indians aren't cheering--they're yelling racism.
School boards and colleges are bombarded with emotional demands from both sides, while professional teams find themselves in court defending the right to trademark their Indian names and logos. In the face of opposition by a national anti-mascot movement, why are fans so determined to retain the fictional chiefs who plant flaming spears and dance on the fifty-yard line?
To answer this question, Dancing at Halftime takes the reader on a journey through the American imagination where our thinking about American Indians has been, and is still being, shaped. Dancing at Halftime is the story of Carol Spindel's determination to understand why her adopted town is so passionately attached to Chief Illiniwek, the American Indian mascot of the University of Illinois. She rummages through our national attic, holding dusty souvenirs from world's fairs and wild west shows, Edward Curtis photographs, Boy Scout handbooks, and faded football programs up to the light. Outside stadiums, while American Indian Movement protestors burn effigies, she listens to both activists and the fans who resent their attacks. Inside hearing rooms and high schools, she poses questions to linguists, lawyers, and university alumni.
A work of both persuasion and compassion, Dancing at Halftime reminds us that in America, where Pontiac is a car and Tecumseh a summer camp, Indians are often our symbolic servants, functioning as mascots and metaphors that express our longings to become "native" Americans, and to feel at home in our own land.
Nation, Culture, Identities
This groundbreaking collection combines ethnographic and historic strategies to reveal how dance plays crucial cultural roles in various regions of the world, including Tonga, Java, Bosnia-Herzegovina, New Mexico, India, Korea, Macedonia, and England. The essays find a balance between past and present and examine how dance and bodily practices are core identity and cultural creators. Reaching beyond the typically Eurocentric view of dance, Dancing from Past to Present opens a world of debate over the role dance plays in forming and expressing cultural identities around the world.
Movement, Gender, and Sociality in the Cook Islands
Dancing from the Heart is the first study of gender, globalization, and expressive culture in the Cook Islands. It demonstrates how dance in particular plays a key role in articulating the overlapping local, regional, and transnational agendas of Cook Islanders. Kalissa Alexeyeff reconfigures conventional views of globalization’s impact on indigenous communities, moving beyond diagnoses of cultural erosion and contamination to a grounded exploration of creative agency and vital cultural production. Central to the study is a rich and textured ethnographic account of contemporary Cook Islands dance practice. Based on fieldwork, in-depth interviews, and archival research, it offers an engrossing analysis of how Cook Islands social life is generated through expressive practices. Dance is explored in a variety of settings, including beauty pageants, tourist venues, nightclubs and community celebrations at home and within Cook Islands communities abroad. Contemporary Cook Islands dance practices are also shaped by competing ideas about the past. Debates about precolonial traditions, missionization, and colonialism pervade discussions about dance and expressive culture. Alexeyeff shows how the politics of tradition reflect the competing moral, political, personal, and economic practices of postcolonial Cook Islanders. Throughout the work the stories and voices of individuals are brought to the fore. Their views are juxtaposed with scholarship on tradition, modernity, and social dynamics. Engaging and accessible, Dancing from the Heart illuminates specific and intimate aspects of Cook Islands social life while, at the same time, addressing fundamental questions within anthropology and indigenous, performance, and postcolonial studies.
The Youth of William Dean Howells
"Dancing in Chains is far more than a sensitive biography (though it is surely that); it is also a model of psychologically informed social and cultural history. Olsen recognizes that psychic conflicts often play themselves out on a higher plane, that psychic and intellectual history are intertwined. He presents a wonderful nuanced picture of Howells."
Jackson Lears,Rutgers University
In this insightful study of the childhood and youth of William Dean Howells, Dancing in Chains demonstrates how the turbulent social and cultural changes of the early nineteenth century shaped the young Howells's emotional and intellectual life. His early diaries, letters, poetry, fiction, and newspaper columns are used to illustrate Olsen's argument, which also in turn throws light on the dominant tensions in antebellum America.
Accepting the emergent middle-class ethos of civilized morality, with its new conceptions of child rearing and gender spheres, Howells's parents urged him to achieve self-control and individual success while also teaching him to seek the good of others rather than his own glory. For Howells the conflicts coalesced at the time of his leaving home, an increasing common rite of passage for antebellum youth. Trying to affirm his sense of literary vocation, he tested his aspirations against the family's Swedenborgian religious convictions and the antislavery commitments of his village while experimenting with competing literary ideologies in the process of meeting the demands of the new mass reading audience. For Howells the resulting tensions eased toward the end of his youth but reappeared in his more mature works of fiction and social criticism in later years.
Portraying the ordeal of coming of age during a momentous period of American history, Dancing in Chains is a fascinating study with a broad appeal to general readers as well as scholars.
Encompassing a vast gamut of personalities, situations, and emotions, these stories penetrate our motives for doing what is right. Often there is no right or wrong, and the characters' motives for the choices they make are as diverse as the childhood memories they cherish and abhor. In the end, this book probes individual impulse and responsibility, creating stories so unerringly authentic that they become—irrepressibly—part of everyone who reads them.
"The Darkness of Love" narrates three days in the life of a black policeman, distressed by his inner fears of racism and irresistibly attracted by his wife's sister. In "Dancing in the Movies" a college student returns to his hometown, where he finds his girlfriend—a heroin addict—and tries to convince her to overcome her habit. There are stories of men at war, of lovers trying to begin a relationship, of others trying to sustain their love. Each story revolves around characters with a choice to make, and Robert Boswell renders these characters in all of their fine, vulnerable, and relentless attributes.
With this prize-winning collection, Boswell proves himself a mature craftsperson, weaving stories both poignant and profound. Each story is a vision of life, alternately dark and joyous, gritty and hopeful.
Excavations In African American Dance
Few will dispute the profound influence that African American music and movement has had in American and world culture. Dancing Many Drums explores that influence through a groundbreaking collection of essays on African American dance history, theory, and practice. In so doing, it reevaluates "black" and "African American " as both racial and dance categories. Abundantly illustrated, the volume includes images of a wide variety of dance forms and performers, from ring shouts, vaudeville, and social dances to professional dance companies and Hollywood movie dancing.
Bringing together issues of race, gender, politics, history, and dance, Dancing Many Drums ranges widely, including discussions of dance instruction songs, the blues aesthetic, and Katherine Dunham’s controversial ballet about lynching, Southland. In addition, there are two photo essays: the first on African dance in New York by noted dance photographer Mansa Mussa, and another on the 1934 "African opera," Kykunkor, or the Witch Woman.