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Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0822346036
ISBN-10: 0822346036
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clothes make the man—and other intergendered subjectivities—in this stimulating study of the social meaning of fashion in the black community. Barnard English professor Miller surveys the history of sartorial style and flamboyance among black dandies and the cultural responses, both fascinated and alarmed, they have provoked. She paints a broad and teeming panorama: the 18th-century English dandy whose stylishness subtly subverted the markers of slavery; his appearance in the writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain and W.E.B. Du Bois; his reappearance in 20th-century Harlem as an icon of freedom and modernity; his role in avant-garde film and art; and modern-day avatars Sean Combs and Andre 3000. Throughout, she explores the protean manifestations of dandyism, its blurring of racial and sexual boundaries, its significations of status and respectability, its capacity to satirize white fashionableness even as it expressed black determination to emulate and surpass white high-style. Miller's writing can be densely academic—A dandy is a kind of embodied, animated sign system that deconstructs given and normative categories of identity—but she offers an incisive, nuanced analysis of a rich vein of cultural history. Photos. (Nov.)
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Review

“Miller’s study incites a much-needed dialogue between existing scholarship on the figure of the dandy—particularly its performative queering of modern narratives of masculinity and nationhood—and the legacies of imperialism and slavery that attest to the constant, if silent, presence of race and racializing discourse in those same narratives. . . . [A]n absorbing and timely study of the black dandy.” - Jaime Hanneken, Comparative Literature


“Encompassing the genres of drama, fiction, photography, film, and sculpture, Miller's study highlights the ways in which diaspora can be located in the image and the imagination of the body and its garments. . . . The value of Miller's text is in its historical range.” - Alisa K. Braithwaite, Modern Fiction Studies


“Monica L. Miller's book is the first of its kind: a lengthy written study of the history of black dandyism and the role that style has played in the politics and aesthetics of African and African American identity. She draws from literature, film, photography, print ads, and music to reveal the black dandy's underground cultural history and generate possibilities for the future. . . . [U]ncanny feats of scholarship that illustrate ways in which the figure of the black dandy has been an elephant-in-the-room — albeit a particularly well-dressed one.” - D. Scot Miller, San Francisco Bay Guardian


“A model for cultural studies, Slaves to Fashion brings the rich,interdisciplinary scholarship of the black dandy into the twenty-first century, serving the fields of both black and American studies.” - Pamela J. Rader, MELUS


“Miller has performed a cultural excavation, sifting through fragments of visual and literary culture to trace a history of black style and assemble the first history of black dandyism. Her work deserves a place among the finer recent contributions to black performance studies. . . .” - Kristin Moriah, Callaloo


“Monica L. Miller’s close readings dazzle, and her historical reach—confident and unforced—is as long as the transnational arc of black dandyism here is wide. Arresting, discerning, responsible, and urgent, Slaves to Fashion is path-breaking. Literary criticism, visual history, and black Atlantic studies never looked so good.”—Maurice O. Wallace, author of Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideality in African American Men’s Literature and Culture, 1775–1995


“Revising and augmenting scholarship on minstrelsy, literary representations of blackness, and black sartorial aesthetics and visual culture, Slaves to Fashion is an impressive and meticulously researched treatise on the history of the black dandy. It fills a gap in the scholarship on the cultural politics of black self-fashioning.”—E. Patrick Johnson, author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity


“A model for cultural studies, Slaves to Fashion brings the rich,interdisciplinary scholarship of the black dandy into the twenty-first century, serving the fields of both black and American studies.”
(Pamela J. Rader, MELUS)

“Encompassing the genres of drama, fiction, photography, film, and sculpture, Miller's study highlights the ways in which diaspora can be located in the image and the imagination of the body and its garments. . . . The value of Miller's text is in its historical range.”
(Alisa K. Braithwaite, Modern Fiction Studies)

“Miller has performed a cultural excavation, sifting through fragments of visual and literary culture to trace a history of black style and assemble the first history of black dandyism. Her work deserves a place among the finer recent contributions to black performance studies. . . .”
(Kristin Moriah, Callaloo)

“Miller’s study incites a much-needed dialogue between existing scholarship on the figure of the dandy—particularly its performative queering of modern narratives of masculinity and nationhood—and the legacies of imperialism and slavery that attest to the constant, if silent, presence of race and racializing discourse in those same narratives. . . . [A]n absorbing and timely study of the black dandy.”
(Jaime Hanneken, Comparative Literature)

“Monica L. Miller's book is the first of its kind: a lengthy written study of the history of black dandyism and the role that style has played in the politics and aesthetics of African and African American identity. She draws from literature, film, photography, print ads, and music to reveal the black dandy's underground cultural history and generate possibilities for the future. . . . [U]ncanny feats of scholarship that illustrate ways in which the figure of the black dandy has been an elephant-in-the-room — albeit a particularly well-dressed one.”
(D. Scot Miller, San Francisco Bay Guardian)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (October 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822346036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822346036
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting! Also,very informational and educational. I highly recommend this book for those who are fashion conscious and seek to learn the history of African American inspired dress and fashion.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beautifully Written and easy to read. Slaves to Fashion gives insight to the internal struggle many African-Americans had with positioning themselves in a society that considered them invisible. Dandyism was a way to bring attention to oneself and at the same time require others to take a look at who it was that was dressed.
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Format: Paperback
very detailed and put together and so informative and its one of those books which reads from the start, middle and it leads you to the present. feeling its overall presentation and being.alot to learn and understand.
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