Essays on Race, Music, and American Culture
"In this collection of thirty-one short articles, essays, and reviews written over a thirty-six-year period, John Szwed consistently displays the extraordinary imagination and ingenuity that have made him one of the most respected scholars in African-American and Afro-diasporic Studies. Crossovers is both a revealing intellectual history of Szwed's development as a scholar and critic, and a unified and integrated argument on behalf of the aesthetic, moral, and political genius of the African diaspora."—George Lipsitz, H-Urban
Ranging across genres from the popular to the scholarly, this selection of John Szwed's published essays abides in the intersection of race and art, jazz and rap: crossovers inside and outside the academy. With reviews written for the Village Voice and articles from academic journals, this volume includes essays, commentary, and meditations on James Agee and Walker Evans, Cuban folklorist Lydia Cabrera, Lafcadio Hearn, Melville Herskovits, Josef Skorvecky, Patrick Chamoiseau, pop song writer Ellie Greenwich, and jazz musicians Sonny Rollins, Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra, and Ornette Coleman. Also included are pieces on the prehistory of hip hop, the blues, popular dance instruction songs, tap dance, and African American set dancing; creole writing and creolization; race and culture; and authenticity, representation, nostalgia, and obscenity in American popular culture, with excursions into jazz in Africa, Russia, and Argentina.
Written about a country with cultural crossroads everywhere, where the question of race is thoroughly woven into the fabric of society, these essays cross boundaries and shed light on the complexities of American life.
John Szwed is John M. Musser Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including So What: The Life of Miles Davis and Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra, and coauthor (with Roger D. Abrahams, Nick Spitzer, and Robert Farris Thompson) of Blues for New Orleans: Mardi Gras and America's Creole Soul, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.