Join us tomorrow evening - July 27th at 6:30pm at Union Theological Seminary - for a conversation on "Keeping Care and Community" in times like these.
PLEASE FORWARD TO INTERESTED PEOPLE!
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The Afterlives of Amazing Grace: Religion and the Making of Black Music in a Post-Soul Age
Tuesday, April 11 | 10:30 - 4:45 pm
ISM Great Hall
409 Prospect St., New Haven
Free; no tickets or reservations required
Organized by ISM Fellow Josef Sorett and Ambre Dromgoole, MAR ‘17
The daylong symposium offers an invitation to consider a bundle of questions associated with the entangled trajectories of contemporary Christianity and black popular music — from Gospel, to Praise and Worship, and Hip Hop — in the years since Aretha Franklin’s chart-topping album, Amazing Grace (1972). Bringing together academics, artists, journalists, and industry leaders for a one-day public dialogue at Yale University, we will consider developments—from the naming and overlap between different musical genres, the blurring of racial lines and blending of church traditions, and the emergence of new technologies and media forms—in Christian music, the cultural marketplace, and black churches in the post-Soul Era.
To set the longer historical context for this dialogue, we will begin the evening of April 10 by reflecting on the early years of Gospel music with a screening and discussion of the classic documentary Say Amen, Somebody (1982).
DAY 1: Film Screening
"Say Amen, Somebody"
Monday, April 10 @ 7:30 pm
Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.
Tuesday, April 11 | 10:30 - 4:45 pm
Featuring a Keynote Lecture: Mark Anthony Neal (Duke University)
ISM Great Hall, 409 Prospect St.
Full schedule and more info here: The Afterlives of Amazing Grace
Spirit in the Dark was featured yesterday, in the November 7th issue of The Revealer, published by the Center for Religion and Media at NYU. What follows is the beginning of that essay, which is a slightly revised excerpt from Chapter 1—titled “The Church and the Negro Spirit”—of Spirit in the Dark, which focuses on tensions between religion and aesthetics as they informed debates about black art and culture during the 1920s.
THE SPIRITUAL POLITICS OF NEGRO ART
Ninety years ago last month the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publication, The Crisis, printed an essay by its editor-in-chief, W.E.B. Du Bois. While Du Bois’s commentary often graced the pages of the Crisis, this time was slightly different. Four months earlier Du Bois had taken the stage at the NAACP convention in Chicago to deliver a speech that he later titled, “Criteria of Negro Art.” He had been asked to speak at a ceremony awarding Carter G. Woodson the organization’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal. Owing to popular demand, The Crisis printed Du Bois’s speech in its entirety in October of 1926.
Like Du Bois, Woodson was a Harvard-trained historian; and he was being honored for, among other contributions in the field of history, founding “Negro History Week” in February of that year. Yet Du Bois made the arts, and not history, his primary topic. To be clear, his decision to take the arts as his subject at the convention was no spontaneous gesture. By 1926 talk of a “Negro Renaissance” abounded; and although it was most commonly associated with Harlem, Chicago played a significant role in this nascent black literary movement. Alain Locke’s The New Negro, commonly considered the movement’s bible, was published in 1925. Crisis had since begun sponsoring a dialogue on race and literature on its pages. And, most recently, two of Harlem’s rising literary stars—George Schuyler and Langston Hughes—had just finished debating the idea of “Negro art” on the pages of The Nation. In fact, as a rebuttal to what Schuyler identified as “The Negro Art-Hokum,” Hughes’s now famous essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” appeared in The Nation on the same day that the NAACP opened its seventeenth national convention.
To continue reading, go to The Revealer
This past weekend I had the opportunity to discuss the ideas that organize my book, Spirit in the Dark, with Kristian Petersen for the most recent episode of Marginalia Review of Books' interview series, "First Impressions."
Many thanks to Kristian for the invitation and conversation. And kudos to MRB Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Timothy Michael Law, and the team of scholars at Marginalia for the really important work they are doing to ensure that nuanced and interesting discussions of religion are available to a wide audience on the Los Angeles Review of Books website.
Check it out -- BUY THE BOOK : ) -- and let me know what you think.
9.1.2016: Happy Birthday josefsorett.com 2.0 and Spirit in the Dark!!!!!!
I want to thank Joselin Mane, my longtime "social media guru," for challenging me to create a website back in 2007 and insisting that I sign up for Twitter not long after that. While I am still finding my twitter-legs, and I aspire to update my blog with greater regularity, thanks to Joselin's techie skill-set and editorial eye it is my pleasure to introduce a new and improved version of josefsorett.com at the same time that my first book -- Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics -- comes out.
Thank you to everyone who took a few minutes to few the site and offer feedback over the past two weeks. In the blog's featured banner slides and below, you'll find old blog highlights dating back to my first launch back on 07.07.07. With the re-launch now, I invite to you subscribe and check out the site for new content in the months ahead!!!
With regards to THE BOOK --- first of all, BUY IT!!!! --- I want to thank my editor, Theo Calderara (and his team at Oxford University Press) for his great patience and persistent efforts to help bring Spirit in the Dark into the world.
You can also use promo code AAFLYG6 to purchase Spirit in the Dark (for a 30% discount) directly from the publisher at https://global.oup.com/academic.
And a special thanks to Alyssa Bender Russell for a wonderful publicity flyer!!! (see below)
Over the weekend I was feeling buoyed by all of the words of encouragement in response to the announcement of my forthcoming book, Spirit in the Dark, which is now available for pre-order online. I'm even more excited now that the Cover image and Table of Contents are posted on the website of Oxford University Press, along with the blurbs, which are also up on Amazon. The book's official release date is September 1, 2016, with a ship date of August 1st.
I'm pleased to share the blurbs now, with much appreciation and gratitude to four scholars whose work has influenced my own and for whom I have deep admiration and respect:
"Spirit in the Dark is a finely honed compendium of black American writers and the breadth of their religious influences. That black intellectuals and artists were also sometimes dogmatic religious adherents, eclectic spiritualists, and irrepressible agnostics is not an unknown observation, but what these identifications meant for modern black expressive culture has gone mostly unsaid. Until now. A richly historical study, Spirit in the Dark is a valuable resource indeed." --Maurice Wallace, English and Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, University of Virginia (and author of Constructing the Black Masculine)
"An exciting and innovative intervention that deftly melds African American religious and cultural studies." -- Barbara D. Savage, author of Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion
"In this magisterial book, Josef Sorett takes us into those black literary spaces that have heretofore been described as secular and reveals how those who reside therein imagine the beautiful in light of the religious. From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement, Sorett pushes the boundaries of our understanding of the workings of the 'spirit' and, in doing so, unsettles our understanding of black religion and literature. This SPIRIT moves in this book. It is a must read!" --Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Princeton University (author of, most recently, Democracy in Black)
"Even at their most assertively secular, black expressive arts over the last century have riffed on Afro-Protestant church structures that they in turn attenuate, revise, and sustain. In this venturesome book Josef Sorett traces the 'celebratory ambivalence' that animates and infuses African-American cultural production from the Great Migration to the present. Spirit in the Dark is the best single-volume work I know of on the arts and fictions of Afro-Protestant modernity." --Tracy Fessenden, author of Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature