- Hardcover: 584 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226769798
- ISBN-13: 978-0226769790
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,083,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture 1st Edition
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From the Inside Flap
Spillers is best known for her race-centered revision of psychoanalytic theory and for her subtle account of the relationships between race and gender. She has also given literary criticism some of its most powerful readings of individual authors, represented here in seminal essays on Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Faulkner. Ultimately, the essays collected in Black, White, and in Color all share Spillers's signature style: heady, eclectic, and astonishingly productive of new ideas. Anyone interested in African American culture and literature will want to read them.
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literature from an African-American perspective, as this school of criticism evolved in the last half of the century, with the civil rights movement. This book is a compilation of
her work over the last 30 years plus, with a foundational essay on the black SERMON, as the key of African American literary and self-creating devices, as would be expected from
someone who was spurred by the King movement, as was the world. She certainly does not limit herself to African-American subjects, as her work on Faulkner also is highly regarded,
including frequent presentations at the annual Faulkner conference in Oxford, Mississippi. Nor does she limit herself by literary genre - her pieces on the poet, Gwyndolyn Brooks,
are also mesmerizing. However, unless one has some familiarity with continental literary and philosophical work over the last years, don't look at this book as an easy way to approach
innovative and challenging literary texts. Some have the density of post de Beauvoire, Sartre, Heidegger, and their successors literary criticism. However, the single essay on the black
church and its relationship to the black sermon, is worth the price of the book, and a good starting point for serious or even casual students of the enormous and too ignored literary
production of America's most creative 'minority' - in the world, and of its perspective - the 'majority.' Thus, worth reading for all, majority, minority, and miscegenated...!!!
student in philosophy, from Toronto, asked if the Hortense I was speaking to on the phone was the author of Momma's Baby, Pappa's Maybe, and I said 'yes.' Exactly the nature of the graduate philosophy seminar Dr. Spillers addressed was not clarified before our convesation broke off, but clearly philosophical inquiry into what old Marxists called "the woman question," is big, current, and the pathbreaking work by Dr.Spillers in this very diverse collection of essays, from the Black Sermon, to Faulkner, to Freud, to the poet Gwyndolyn Brooks, (the only author to get three essays) reflects the varied inspirations of Spillers diverse education; a graduate of Memphis State, a Ph. from Brandeis, to teaching at Vassar, (her denial of tenure is described vividly in the introduction), to Haverford, Emory, and Cornell, all reflect in some ways what her colleague from Nashville,Thadious Davis,and U. Pennsylvania, describes as the connection between place and the crux of creativity.
My favorite essay among them, on the Black Sermon, suggests that the sermon, more than any other artistic or literary form, (in a contrast with an Italian cathedral) shows the unique character of the evoluton of black religious culture, and, indeed, black linguistic culture itself, in the U.S.,
and discusses and describes many of the canonical sermonic works which evolved, relatively 'invisible' to 'white eyes' except perhaps those few faculty at Historically Black colleges and Universities, prior to the rise of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.
Whether this work, out of a large body of relatively unexamined literary and philosophical perspectives by African-American women deserves to be called the foremost, the best, or most excellent in dealing with the many diverse topics, literary figures, and themes of American and African-American literature, is not my call to make,
but no one who reads even half these essays will begrudge the time nor fail to see a first rate philosoophical and literary mind at work, regardless of sex.
Surely that's among the reasons 'Skip' Gates, the everyman of African-American life, literature, and DNA,
has asked her to give the W.E. B. DuBois lectures at Harvard in the fall of 2013!! Y'all come!!! Howard Romaine
Spillers's inventive analytical insight has been justly celebrated over the years. This book at once pays tribute to that legacy of critical acumen and *expands* on it by virtue of a long introductory essay (titled "Peter's Pans"), which announces Spillers's turn toward postcolonial and diasporic materiality, as well as an organizing frame that highlights the interrelationships among the essays. It is truly a wonder to behold a seemingly "familiar" essay like "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe," originally published in 1987, in light of her more recent "All the Things You Could Be by Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother." Somehow reading the two closely together generates resonances that lend further critical force to Spillers's thoughts on race, gender, psychoanalysis, embodiment, and what it means to be "in the flesh." In other words, this book offers a "layering" of thought which does justice to the abiding themes and concerns of Spillers's criticism.
It's worth pointing out that this book contains significant revisions to several essays, which further underscores the fact that simply reading them in their originally published forums doesn't quite arrive at the critical effect I describe above. The collection is already a standard reference point for scholars in many fields of humanistic inquiry; I cannot recommend it highly enough to interested, and vested, readers.