DISTURBING THE PEACE

DISTURBING THE PEACE

BRYAN WAGNER
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0hkm
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  • Book Info
    DISTURBING THE PEACE
    Book Description:

    W. C. Handy waking up to the blues on a train platform, Buddy Bolden eavesdropping on the drums at Congo Square, John Lomax taking his phonograph recorder into a southern penitentiary - in Disturbing the Peace, Bryan Wagner revises the history of the black vernacular tradition and gives a new account of black culture by reading these myths in the context of the tradition's ongoing engagement with the law.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-05476-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-24)

    Perhaps the most important thing we have to remember about the black tradition is that Africa and its diaspora are older than blackness. Blackness does not come from Africa. Rather, Africa and its diaspora become black during a particular stage in their history. It sounds a little strange to put it this way, but the truth of this description is widely acknowledged. Blackness is an adjunct to racial slavery. Certainly we will continue to discuss and disagree about the determinants that made blackness conceivable as well as about the pacing of their influence. That process is very complex, mixing legal...

  5. 1 THE BLACK TRADITION FROM IDA B. WELLS TO ROBERT CHARLES
    (pp. 25-57)

    Although the actual origin of the blues is unknown, and maybe at this point unknowable, we do know exactly when and how this little-known regional vernacular became an international phenomenon. More than anyone else, it was W. C. Handy who communicated the music to a mass audience, standardizing the format for twelve-bar blues in the process. Although Handy was not the first to notate the blues, it was the publication of compositions like “Memphis Blues” (1912) and “St. Louis Blues” (1914) that facilitated the music’s wider circulation. Drawing on the vernacular materials that he gathered around the Delta, Handy became...

  6. 2 THE STRANGE CAREER OF BRAS-COUPÉ
    (pp. 58-115)

    In the history that has been written about the United States, there is a long-standing tendency to differentiate the South from the rest of the nation. Often, the South has been singled out as the exception to the normative pattern of institutional development exemplified in big cities on the northeastern seaboard. A case in point is police history, which from its beginning has tended to construe the difference between North and South in the strictest terms. Take the following passage from “The Mind that Burns in Each Body” (1983), the classic essay by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. As background for its...

  7. 3 UNCLE REMUS AND THE ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT
    (pp. 116-184)

    Folklore collection was professionalized in the United States during the 1880s and 1890s. In the summer of 1887, letters were circulated proposing an academic society exclusively dedicated to the collection and preservation of the “fast-vanishing remains” of “unwritten traditions” and “rude customs” in the United States. The idea evidently struck a chord. In January 1888, the American Folklore Society held its first meeting at Harvard, with Francis James Child presiding, and theJournal of American Folklorepublished its first issue that April. From the start, the society was able to promote an “esprit de corps” that according to its members...

  8. 4 THE BLACK TRADITION FROM GEORGE W. JOHNSON TO OZELLA JONES
    (pp. 185-238)

    Probably the biggest star in the first decade of the phonograph business, George W. Johnson was also one of the first black musicians to record commercially. It seems that Johnson cut his first cylinders for the New Jersey Phonograph Company in 1890 before heading to work for other outfits—including Edison, Columbia, and Berliner Gramophone. He usually stuck to his signature songs, “The Whistling Coon” and “The Laughing Song,” during an era when most musicians were developing big repertoires to maximize profits. As affordable spring-driven phonographs suitable for household use would not become widely available until the turn of the...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 239-296)
  10. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 297-298)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 299-307)