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Presenting an innovative approach to performance studies and literary history, Soyica Colbert argues for the centrality of black performance traditions to African American literature, including preaching, dancing, blues and gospel, and theatre itself, showing how these performance traditions create the 'performative ground' of African American literary texts. Across a century of literary production using the physical space of the theatre and the discursive space of the page, W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, August Wilson and others deploy performances to re-situate black people in time and space. The study examines African American plays past and present, including A Raisin in the Sun, Blues for Mister Charlie and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, demonstrating how African American dramatists stage black performances in their plays as acts of recuperation and restoration, creating sites that have the potential to repair the damage caused by slavery and its aftermath.Read more
- Relates important African American plays to significant works of African American literature, presenting a more expansive conception of the African American literary tradition
- Incorporates psychoanalytic and social theories, providing an innovative framework for readers interested in theories of social and psychic trauma
- Fosters a broad understanding of the reparative capabilities of black performance, relating black performance studies to political and social movements
Reviews & endorsements
"‘Soyica Colbert’s exciting new book, The African American Theatrical Body, celebrates as it insightfully explores the power of African American drama. While foregrounding the space and place of drama within the black literary canon, Colbert compellingly argues that black plays and performance have the potential not simply to reproduce but to repair and even to revise history. In making her case, Colbert analyzes seminal texts of African American drama and theater, but also notably turns to earlier African American dramas that have received far too little critical attention. This is a book of amazing historical scope and impressive critical imagination."
-Harry J. Elam, Jr., Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities, Stanford UniversitySee more reviews
"In this bold and rigorous study, Soyica Colbert reveals the crucial reparative work of African American drama as a dynamic, collaborative site for responding to legacies of historical and material trauma. Through a series of lively and illuminating readings of works by Hansberry, Hurston and Hughes as well as Du Bois, Baldwin, Baraka, Wilson, and Parks, The African American Theatrical Body travels across a century of black performance in order to show how, time and again, black theater actively and radically manages and re-imagines space, time and movement for African American communities."
-Daphne A. Brooks, Professor of English & African American Studies, Princeton University
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- Date Published: November 2011
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107014381
- length: 344 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 160 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.68kg
- contains: 11 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Overture: rites that render repairing: Suzan-Lori Parks' The America Play
1. Repetition/reproduction: the DNA of black expressive culture: Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun
2. Recuperating black diasporic history: W. E. B. Du Bois' The Star of Ethiopia
3. Re-enacting the Harlem Renaissance: Zora Neale Hurston's Color Struck
4. Resisting shame, offering praise and worship: Langston Hughes's Tambourines to Glory
5. Resisting death: the blues bravado of a ghost: James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie
6. Rituals of repair: August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone
7. Reconstitution: Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog
Epilogue: Black movements: Tarell Alvin McCraney's In the Red and Brown Water
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