African American Poetics and the Discourse of Freedom
This chapter extends the discussion of rhetoric and sound by considering issues of prosody to analyze how African American poets used songs and musical cadences to translate their political messages. It examines various sonic emanations including muted voices, song lyrics, and instrumental airs embedded in mid-19th century African American verse by poets such as James M. Whitfield and Joshua McCarter Simpson. Focusing primarily on Frances Ellen Watkins (Harper), it interrogates how these poets exploited musical elements of prosody as mnemonic devices to simultaneously fashion their verses as artful poetry and political discourse. Theorizing this art form as “the remix,” the chapter illustrates how utterly attuned African Americans were with the idioms of the national language and how they engaged in practices of code-switching.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.