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Re-Membering the Black Atlantic

On the Poetics and Politics of Literary Memory

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Lars Eckstein

The Atlantic slave trade continues to haunt the cultural memories of Africa, Europe and the Americas. There is a prevailing desire to forget: While victims of the African diaspora tried to flee the sites of trauma, enlightened Westerners preferred to be oblivious to the discomforting complicity between their enlightenment and chattel slavery. Recently, however, fiction writers have ventured to ‘re-member’ the Black Atlantic.
This book is concerned with how literature performs as memory. It sets out to chart systematically the ways in which literature and memory intersect, and offers readings of three seminal Black Atlantic novels. Each reading illustrates a particular poetic strategy of accessing the past and presents a distinct political outlook on memory. Novelists may choose to write back to texts, images or music: Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge brings together numerous fragments of slave narratives, travelogues and histories to shape a brilliant montage of long-forgotten texts. David Dabydeen’s A Harlot’s Progress approaches slavery through the gateway of paintings by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds and J.M.W. Turner. Toni Morrison’s Beloved, finally, is steeped in black music, from spirituals and blues to the art of John Coltrane. Beyond differences in poetic strategy, moreover, the novels paradigmatically reveal distinct ideologies: their politics of memory variously promote an encompassing transcultural sense of responsibility, an aestheticist ‘creative amnesia’, and the need to preserve a collective ‘black’ identity.

In Black and Gold

Contiguous Traditions in Post-War British and Irish Poetry

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Edited by C.C. Barfoot

In Black and Gold indicates that opposed styles of poetry reveal subterranean correspondences that occasionally meet and run together. Austerity or tomfoolery are two of the many valid responses to the human condition that create the contiguous traditions that cannot help touching and reacting to each other. The poetry discussed in this book deals with the relation of individuals to strange or to familiar landscapes, and what this means to their own sense of displacement or rootedness; with the use of history as an escape from or as a challenge to an apparently failing present; and with the role of nationalism either as a refuge for angry frustration, or as a weapon against the affronting world, or as an ambivalent loyalty that needs to be scoured, or as all three. Here we find poetry as a means of discovering true or false allegiances and valid or invalid public and private identities; poetry as a medium for exploring the uses of the demotic in confronting the breakdowns and injustices of modern democracy; poetry as play in the midst of private and public woe; poetry as a spiritual quest, as a spiritual scourging, as a wrestling with spiritual absences; and poetry as an intermittent and sporadic commemoration of the triumphs and delights of epiphanic encounters with the physical world.

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Edited by Jorunn Svensen Gjerden, Kari Jegerstedt and Željka Švrljuga

Exploring the Black Venus Figure in Aesthetic Practices critically examines a longstanding colonial fascination with the black female body as an object of sexual desire, envy, and anxiety. Since the 2002 repatriation of the remains of Sara Baartman to post-apartheid South Africa, the interest in the figure of Black Venus has skyrocketed, making her a key symbol for the restoration of the racialized female body in feminist, anti-racist and postcolonial terms.

Edited by Jorunn Gjerden, Kari Jegerstedt, and Željka Švrljuga, this volume considers Black Venus as a product of art established and potentially refigured through aesthetic practices, following her travels through different periods, geographies and art forms from Baudelaire to Kara Walker, and from the Caribbean to Scandinavia.

Contributors: Kjersti Aarstein, Carmen Birkle, Jorunn Svensen Gjerden, Kari Jegerstedt, Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen, Ljubica Matek, Margery Vibe Skagen, Camilla Erichsen Skalle, Željka Švrljuga.

Black South African Autobiography After Deleuze

Belonging and Becoming in Self-Testimony

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Kgomotso M. Masemola

In Black South African Autobiography After Deleuze: Belonging and Becoming in Self-Testimony, Kgomotso Michael Masemola uses Gilles Deleuze’s theories of immanence and deterritorialization to explore South African autobiography as both the site and the limit of intertextual cultural memory. Detailing the intertextual turn that is commensurate with belonging to the African world and its diasporic reaches through the Black Atlantic, among others, this book covers autobiographies from Peter Abrahams to Es’kia Mphahlele, from Ellen Kuzwayo to Nelson Mandela. It proceeds further to reveal wider dimensions of angst and belonging that attend becoming through transcultural memory. Kgomotso Michael Masemola successfully marshalls Deleuzean theories in a sophisticated re-reading that makes clear the autobiographers’ epistemic access to wor(l)ds beyond South Africa.

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Merle Tönnies and Anna Lienen

1 Introduction In the realm of black British literature, the most dominant novelistic form of the 1990s was probably the ‘black British Bildungsroman ’ (cf. Rupp 8) with its appropriation of a traditional western genre for very different purposes. The features and varieties of this phenomenon have

Multimodality in Canadian Black Feminist Writing

Orality and the Body in the Work of Harris, Philip, Allen, and Brand

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Maria Caridad Casas

This book develops a theory of multimodality – the participation of a text in more than one mode – centred on the poetry/poetics of Lillian Allen, Claire Harris, Dionne Brand, and Marlene Nourbese Philip. How do these poets represent oral Caribbean English Creoles (CECs) in writing and negotiate the relationship between the high literary in Canadian letters and the social and historical meanings of CECs? How do the latter relate to the idea of “female and black”?
Through fluid use of code- and mode-switching, the movement of Brand and Philip between creole and standard English, and written orality and standard writing forms part of their meanings. Allen’s eye-spellings precisely indicate stereotypical creole sounds, yet use the phonological system of standard English. On stage, Allen projects a black female body in the world and as a speaking subject. She thereby shows that the implication of the written in the literary excludes her body’s language (as performance); and she embodies her poetry to realize a ‘language’ alternative to the colonizing literary. Harris’s creole writing helps her project a fragmented personality, a range of dialects enabling quite different personae to emerge within one body. Thus Harris, Brand, Philip, and Allen both project the identity “female and black” and explore this social position in relation to others.
Considering textual multimodality opens up a wide range of material connections. Although written, this poetry is also oral; if oral, then also embodied; if embodied, then also participating in discourses of race, gender, sexuality, and a host of other systems of social organization and individual identity. Finally, the semiotic body as a mode (i.e. as a resource for making meaning) allows written meanings to be made that cannot otherwise be expressed in writing. In every case, Allen, Philip, Harris, and Brand escape the constraints of dominant media, refiguring language via dialect and mode to represent a black feminist sensibility.

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Camilla Erichsen Skalle

softness, fullness of lines and a vague sweetness of expression that furiously whips the blood with a sharp fascination, pungent, wild and intoxicating as the scents and aromas of the acacias’ resinous woods. 1 ∵ The description of the Somali girls introducing this chapter on Black Venus in the Italian

H.C. Andersen’s Black Venus Fairy Tale

“The Marsh King’s Daughter” and the Aftermath of Danish Colonialism

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Kjersti Aarstein

history, through an allegorical invocation of the exotic phantasm named ‘Black Venus.’ 5 Rather than the more or less pronounced aestheticism that is predominant in Andersen’s reception, I advance the thesis that the most important tropes of the fairy-tale genre – such as allegory, striking contrasts and

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Fiona Harris-Ramsby and Mubarak Muhammad

bring to mind a contemporary situation wherein American citizens make monsters of each other. More specifically, and in terms of America’s murky racial past and present, we see this at work in a recent resurgence of the metaphorical monsterisation of black men in clashes with the us police. These

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Ingrid von Rosenberg

and enabling, filled not only with authoritarian perils but also with possibilities for community, resistance, and emancipatory change” (Soja 87). The history of black people’s efforts to achieve equal rights in the use of British public spaces as well as the opposition set up by some groups among the