By Shirley Moody-Turner
"Before the cutting edge paintings of Zora Neale Hurston, folklorists from the Hampton Institute accrued, studied, and wrote approximately African American folklore. Like Hurston, those folklorists labored inside of but additionally past the boundaries of white mainstream associations. they typically known as into query the that means of the very folklore tasks during which they have been engaged. Shirley Moddy-Turner analyzes this output, in addition to the contributions of a disparate crew of African American authors and students. She explores how black authors and folklorists have been lively participants--rather than passive observers--in conversations in regards to the politics of representing black folklore. reading literary texts, folklore files, and cultural performances, felony discourse, and political rhetoric, Black Folklore and the Politics of Racial illustration demonstrates how folklore experiences turned a battleground throughout which problems with racial identification and distinction have been asserted and debated on the flip of the 20th century. The learn is framed by means of questions of historic and carrying on with import. What position have representations of black folklore performed in developing racial id? And, how have these rules impacted the best way African americans take into consideration and creatively have interaction black traditions? Moody-Turner renders confirmed ancient proof in a brand new mild and context, taking figures we concept we knew--such as Charles Chesnutt, Anna Julia Cooper, and paul Laurence Dunbar--and recasting their position in African American highbrow and cultural background" -- Read more...
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Additional info for Black folklore and the politics of racial representation
13 While Newell was unsparing in his critiques of folklorists who allowed their interpretations to be colored by their personal, political, or ideological biases, Newell’s arguments in favor of European origins for African American folklore were not unaﬀected by such biases. Newell believed that blacks were assimilating so rapidly to white American practices that African American customs and tales actually bore the mark of the European remnants that persisted in white American culture rather than in African traditions and practices.
3) depicts the medley of stereotypes that had come to dominate the minstrel shows and capture the public imagination. Jim Crow, Zip Coon, and the enduring and infamous Grinning Darkie of the old plantation South ousted the Yankee and the backwoodsman from national prominence. In the Scott print, the dandy poses in a ﬂashy yellow coat, sporting pencil-thin legs and holding a cane. A Topsy-like character dances around a ﬁgure whose spectacles mark him as a caricature of the black intellectual. In the background, standing erect, are ﬁve “gentlemen” who could be a spoof on the Hampton Student Singers or Fisk Jubilee Singers, groups known for their digniﬁed manner and impeccable dress.
The ideology of social, cultural, and biological evolution coursed through the entire conversation, providing “scientiﬁc” justiﬁcation that this was indeed the natural order of things. Throughout the nineteenth century, minstrelsy had an indelible impact on emerging social, cultural, and intellectual institutions. Minstrelsy furnished “the jokes that were told and retold, the songs that were on everyone’s lips, and the vivid, literally living . . ”57 By yoking the stage stereotypes to claims of a folk authentic, minstrelsy created a potent black folk image that intrigued the social scientist and provided ready support for the rapidly solidifying system of Jim Crow segregation.