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"This Is How We Flow"
Rhythm in Black Cultures

Edited by Angela M. S. Nelson

Explores the meaning, motif, and theme of rhythm in black cultures throughout the United States and Africa

"This is How We Flow" provides ten pathbreaking essays in which the volume's contributors illustrate how rhythm is the foundation of all African expression—music and dance, the visual arts, architecture, theater, literature, and film. They suggest, by example, that an African aesthetic does exist, an aesthetic that revolves around the motif of rhythm.

In essays that focus on the medium most commonly associated with the motif, Juliette Bowles discusses rhythm's place in African American music, and Mark Sumner Harvey examines its conceptualization in jazz music. William C. Banfield suggests a methodological framework for composing black music, and Angela M. S. Nelson identifies the primacy of rhythm in African American rap music.

From Martin Luther King's speeches to Claude McKay's poetry, the contributors also consider rhythm as a quality in black oratory, literature, and film. Richard Lischer offers a detailed analysis of King's speeches, Ronald Dorris elucidates rhythm's meaning in McKay's poem "Harlem Dancer," and Darren J. N. Middleton considers the power of rhythm to move people to write and act for social justice, as in the poetry of Rastafarian dub poets. Suggesting that it is through the lens of rhythm that the meaning of black film of the 1980s and 1990s becomes clearest, D. Sonyini Madison exposes rhythm as ritual, modality, and discourse in the film Daughters of the Dust.

Two contributors round out the discussion by examining expressions of rhythm in African countries. Alton B. Pollard III provides a historical-critical survey of freedom songs in South Africa from the nineteenth century through the 1990s, and Zeric Kay Smith examines "macro- and micro-rhythms" in Malian politics, lending credit to the contributors' collective conviction that rhythm organizes and frames African behavior regardless of context.

Angela M. S. Nelson is an assistant professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University and director of its Center for Popular Culture Studies. A contributor to Cultural Diversity and the U.S. Media and Passport to Culture: Expressions of the Human Spirit, Nelson holds a Ph.D. in American culture studies.



book jacket for "This Is How We Flow"


6 x 9
160 pages
4 illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-190-8
cloth, $34.95s

William Banfield
Juliette Bowles
Donald Dorris
Mark Sumner Harvey
Richard Lischer
D. Soyinia Madison
Darren J. M. Middleton
Angela M. S. Nelson
Alton B. Pollard III
Zeric Kay Smith


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