In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post–Civil Rights Era

Richard Iton, Author . Oxford Univ. $29.95 (422p) ISBN 978-0-19-517846-3

Iton (Solidarity Blues ) examines the link between black popular culture and black politics, the symbiosis between creative artist and political activist in the post–civil rights era. From Cold War era artists and activists (Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry) to Amiri Baraka; from Ella Fitzgerald to Erykah Badu; Dizzy Gillespie to Nas; Richard Pryor to Chris Rock—Iton traces cultural and political developments, engaging with novelists, filmmakers, musicians, standup comedians and visual artists. Always attentive to the dynamics of sexuality, gender and race roles, Iton’s work possesses the depth of wide reading in modernist theory and the breadth of wide-open eyes and ears for the popular. Gargantuan sentences coupled with current critical jargon may deter the general reader, but specialists in popular culture, African-American studies, political science and American studies will find Iton’s argument that “political intention adheres to every cultural production” challenging, illuminating and groundbreaking. For both lay reader and academician, it may well “compel a revision of our notions of the political.” (June)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
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