• Vernaculars of Home

    Author(s):
    John E. Drabinski (see profile)
    Date:
    2015
    Group(s):
    LLC African American
    Subject(s):
    African Americans--Social life and customs, Culture--Study and teaching, African Americans, Expression, African Americans--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    James Baldwin, language and nationalism, African American cultural studies, African American expression, African American studies
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/kyzt-r941
    Abstract:
    This essay examines James Baldwin’s conception of what he calls “black English” and its link to historical and cultural identity. I link Baldwin’s defense of black English to his reflections on the sor- row songs and sound, which draws on long-standing accounts of musicality as the foundation of the African-American tradition. In order to demonstrate this relation to the tradition, the essay puts Baldwin’s remarks in relation to Frederick Douglass’s and W. E. B. Du Bois’s description of the sorrow songs. I also under- score how that relation to the African-American tradition marks an important set of tensions with mid-twentieth century black Atlantic theory (Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon), tensions which make sense of the Americanness of Baldwin’s work. Across the essay, I claim that Baldwin’s account of language has epistemo- logical and ontological significance (and so is not just aesthetic or political), which gives an interesting and important twist to Martin Heidegger’s famous phrase that “language is the house of Being.”
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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