We Want the Funk

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[By Erin Ranft] Today in my Afrofuturism course, I channeled Tony Bolden and Howard Rambsy II. After having the opportunity to learn from Bolden and Rambsy over the summer at the NEH Summer Institute, “Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetry” at the University of Kansas, I was anxious to put music and poetry listening sessions to work in the classroom. And […]

Realism as Fantasy: From Jonathan Franzen to Colson Whitehead

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By Emily A. Phillips In his 1996 article,  “I’ll be Doing More of the Same,” Jonathan Franzen defends his use of realism as a novelist. He claims “When the times get really, really awful, you retrench; you reexamine old content in next contexts; you try to preserve; you seem obsolete…The day comes when the truly subversive literature is in some measure conservative. Maybe it’s time […]

Afrofuturism & the Expression-Scriber; or why Amiri Baraka thinks a typewriter is corny

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[By Howard Rambsy, II] Some years ago when I began participating in Alondra Nelson’s “afrofuturism” online forum and as I worked to gain a clearer understanding of AF as a framework, I started looking out for works that I had previously overlooked or under-studied concerning technological ideas and speculative narratives.  No doubt one of my greatest finds or re-discoveries was Amiri Baraka’s essay “Technology & […]

Katherine Dunham’s Use of Technology and Dance

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[By Danielle Hall] Some of what I have found most fascinating while researching Katherine Dunham as an intellectual involve examining the ways in which she used technology (film and musical recording devices) and her dance technique to advance the knowledge and studies of black people and Diasporan cultures throughout the world. Dance, then, functioned as a form of “Diaspora literacy” (as coined by VèVè Clark) […]

Ask Your Mama: Langston Hughes and Afrofuturism

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[By Alysha Griffin] My best friends and I used to be fond of playing the dozens—particularly, exchanging “yo’ mama” jokes. Too young to realize how problematic this was from a historical angle, we realized that this was probably something we should avoid only when the battles ended with a fist fight and/or punishment from someone’s angry mother- my best friends were also my first cousins. […]

6 Afrofuturistic Albums and Novels

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[By Goyland Williams] In a yesterday’s post, I discussed the concept Afrofuturism and the connections between black music and literature. While Parliament-Funkadelic’s Mothership Connection and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man were the first two works that jumped out at me as Afrofuturistic, my continued interest in the subject has lead me to seek out other texts and works of art that fall into this category.   […]

The Souls of Black Folk: Afrofuturism and Freedom Dreams

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[By Goyland Williams] The history of black people has been a history of movement—real and imagined. Who can hear “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” or Parliament’s “The Mothership Connection” and not hear these travel/escape narratives—afrofuturistic representations of freedom?  While the term Afro-futurism can be formally traced back to the publication of Mark Dery’s 1994 edited collection Flame Wars:The Discourse of Cyberculture, its message is not limited […]