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Full-Text Articles in African American Studies

Invisible Dread, From Twisted: The Dreadlock Chronicles, Bertram D. Ashe Jan 2010

Invisible Dread, From Twisted: The Dreadlock Chronicles, Bertram D. Ashe

English Faculty Publications

This excerpt traces the issues and process surrounding the dreadlocking of an Afri­can-American professor's hair. The personal history leading up to the decision to grow locks is briefly addressed, as is the experience of getting twisted for the first time and some reactions to the new hairstyle. Twisted discusses issues of cultural authenticity and academic nonconformity. It examines dreadlocks as a pathway to explore black identity, but in opposing ways: the act of locking ones hair does dis­play unconventional blackness - but it also participates in a preexisting black style. To what extent, the excerpt asks, can the ...


These - Are - The "Breaks": A Roundtable Discussion On Teaching The Post-Soul Aesthetic, Bertram D. Ashe, Crystal Anderson, Mark Anthony Neal, Evie Shockley, Alexander Weheliye Jan 2007

These - Are - The "Breaks": A Roundtable Discussion On Teaching The Post-Soul Aesthetic, Bertram D. Ashe, Crystal Anderson, Mark Anthony Neal, Evie Shockley, Alexander Weheliye

English Faculty Publications

We met at Duke University - mid-summer, in the mid Atlantic, at mid-campus - to talk about teaching courses that focused on the post-soul aesthetic. We met outside the John Hope Franklin Center, and soon enough we five youngish black professors were walking a hallway towards a conference room near the African and African American Studies program. Not at all surprisingly, the walls of the hallway were lined with framed photographs of the esteemed John Hope Franklin at various stages throughout his long and storied career. For me, given the topic I was about to raise among these professional colleagues, walking that ...


Theorizing The Post-Soul Aesthetic: An Introduction, Bertram D. Ashe Jan 2007

Theorizing The Post-Soul Aesthetic: An Introduction, Bertram D. Ashe

English Faculty Publications

It's time. Clearly, it's time. As I begin this introduction, in the spring of 2006, landmark anniversaries press in on me from every side: 20 years ago, Greg Tate wrote "Cult-Nats Meet Freaky-Deke: the Return of the Black Aesthetic" for the Village Voice in the fall of 1986. And Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It - that totemic post-soul anthem - was released in the summer of 1986, as well. More personally, I first taught Trey Ellis's essay "The New Black Aesthetic" in 1991,15 years ago, and I inaugurated my post-soul aesthetic course in the Spring ...


Interracial Love, Virginians' Lies, And Donald Mccaig's Jacob's Ladder, Suzanne W. Jones Jan 2005

Interracial Love, Virginians' Lies, And Donald Mccaig's Jacob's Ladder, Suzanne W. Jones

English Faculty Publications

The Old South's taboo against love between blacks and whites has cast a long shadow. No cross-racial relationship has been so pathologized by American society. Even in 1967, when the Supreme Court finally declared antimiscegenation laws unconstitutional in the case of Loving v. Virginia, sixteen states still prohibited interracial marriage, down from thirty states as recently as 1948. Not until 1998 and 2000 did ballot initiatives in South Carolina and Alabama finally eliminate the last of the antimiscegenation laws, although no one had tried to enforce them for years. Recent U.S. census figures show interracial unions increasing--up from ...


Passing As Danzy Senna, Bertram D. Ashe, Danzy Senna Jan 2002

Passing As Danzy Senna, Bertram D. Ashe, Danzy Senna

English Faculty Publications

Caucasia, written by Danzy Senna, is part of a growing sub-genre of African-American novels, some of which announce their themes by their titles: White Boys, by Reginald McKnight; The White Boy Shuffle, by Paul Beatty; The Last Integrationist, by Jake Lamar; and Negrophobia, by Darius James, to name a few. Caucasia is a "Post-Soul" novel that explores the world of "mullatos" - both cultural and racial. But even though artists such as Kara Walker, photographer Lorna Simpson, and essayist Lisa Jones also explore the vicissitudes of post-Civil Rights Movement Black identity, in Black fiction its been pretty much a boys' club.


"Hair Drama" On The Cover Of "Vibe" Magazine, Bertram D. Ashe Jan 2001

"Hair Drama" On The Cover Of "Vibe" Magazine, Bertram D. Ashe

English Faculty Publications

This study consists of a cultural reading of the cover photograph of the June-July 1999 issue of Vibe magazine. It explores the relationship between Mase, an African-American male rap star, and the three anonymous African-American female models that surround him. The study interprets the cover through the long, straightened hair of the models, locating the models' hair in a historically-informed context of black hair theory and practice. The study argues that the models' presence on the cover, particularly their "bone straight and long" hair, "enhances" Mase in much the same way breast-augmented "trophy women" "enhance" their mates. Ultimately, the study ...


"Under The Umbrella Of Black Civilization": A Conversation With Reginald Mcknight, Bertram D. Ashe Jan 2001

"Under The Umbrella Of Black Civilization": A Conversation With Reginald Mcknight, Bertram D. Ashe

English Faculty Publications

Talking to Reginald McKnight is like scanning an imaginary worldwide radio dial. At any given moment he can transform his pleasant speaking voice into a raspy, aged, Middle Eastern-by-way-of-New York accent - or a deep Southern drawl. In an instant he can switch from a precise West African dialect to hip, urban street lingo, and then effortlessly segue back to his normal voice. McKnight says he "hit the ground running" as a mimic, and his talent was broadened as he lived all over the United States as the son of an Air Force sergeant. His time spent on the road - including ...


On The Jazz Musician's Love/Hate Relationship With The Audience, Bertram D. Ashe Jan 1999

On The Jazz Musician's Love/Hate Relationship With The Audience, Bertram D. Ashe

English Faculty Publications

An assistant professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, Bertram D. Ashe discusses how the intersection of an African American cool style with a black vernacular tradition and multi-racial audiences complicates audience-performer relations. In the vernacular tradition, performers play not "to" but "with" an audience, drawing on the call-response patterns that characterize the black aesthetic. Ashe notes that the vernacular tradition is not racial but cultural, and class can be as important a marker as race in determining audience expectations. Differing cultural backgrounds create, in Ashe's words, "competing realities," distinct sets of expectations that can shape ...


"Why Don't He Like My Hair?": Constructing African-American Standards Of Beauty In Toni Morrison's "Song Of Solomon" And Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God", Bertram D. Ashe Jan 1995

"Why Don't He Like My Hair?": Constructing African-American Standards Of Beauty In Toni Morrison's "Song Of Solomon" And Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God", Bertram D. Ashe

English Faculty Publications

African-Americans, with their traditionally African features, have always had an uneasy coexistence with the European (white) ideal of beauty. According to Angela M. Neal and Midge L. Wilson, "Compared to Black males, Black females have been more profoundly affected by the prejudicial fallout surrounding issues of skin color, facial features, and hair. Such impact can be attributed in large part to the importance of physical attractiveness for all women" (328). For black women, the most easily controlled feature is hair. While contemporary black women sometimes opt for cosmetic surgery or colored contact lenses, hair alteration (i.e., hair-straightening "permanents," hair ...