From Publishers Weekly
Savage dancer, Black Venus, exotic Jazz Age star, liberated new woman, gender-bending cross-dresser, mother, socialist, war hero and writer—Josephine Baker (1906–1975) was all of those in life and in the images she projected. In this vibrant if academic portrait of Baker, Jules-Rosette alerts the reader that this is "not a biography" but an exploration of "the complex construction of Baker's multiple images in art and life." The first part opens with the tourist attractions that Baker sparked, not with her birth, then moves through her stage performance history, and concludes with an analysis of her films and films about her. In Part II, Baker emerges as a fully independent figure, influencing the art and fashion worlds, and in Part III, Jules-Rosette discusses the obstacles Baker confronted as she struggled to promote her ahead-of-its-time multicultural worldview. Jules-Rosette's scholarly deconstruction, generously documented (including more than 50 illustrations) and supplemented with a chronology, particularly helpful in a thematically structured work, will reward Baker fans. As well, the book's careful documentation, ample bibliography and discography add tremendous value for readers engaged in cultural, ethnic, diaspora or women's studies. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Josephine Baker, a sexy and glamorous expat African American, took Jazz Age Paris by storm and left behind an array of sparkling images. Here she is, svelte and jubilant, dancing topless in a little banana-skirt; resplendent in a slinky beaded gown; smiling mischievously in tuxedo and top hat. Sociology professor Jules-Rosette saw Baker in person during the March on Washington in 1963, imposing in her French air force uniform. A century after her birth in St. Louis, Baker--revolutionary performer, cabaret owner, movie star, fashion plate, hero of the French Resistance, humanitarian, and mother of 12 adopted children of diverse backgrounds--is an indelible icon. And it is that status that Jules-Rosette so thoroughly analyzes as she deconstructs Baker's self-mythologizing ability to transform "her theatrical performances into social and political statements," and "dream of universal brotherhood." Jules-Rosette's rigorously academic approach, replete with priceless illustrations, is enlightening in spite of its pedantry. If readers turn first to Josephine: The Hungry Heart (1993) or The Josephine Baker Story (2000), they will more fully appreciate Jules-Rosette's insightful exegesis. Donna Seaman
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.