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Conjuring Freedom: Music and Masculinity in the Civil War's "Gospel Army"

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Conjuring Freedom: Music and Masculinity in the Civil War’s “Gospel Army” analyzes the songs of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, a regiment of Black soldiers who met nightly in the performance of the ring shout. In this study, acknowledging the importance of conjure as a religious, political, and epistemological practice, Johari Jabir demonstrates how the musical performance allowed troop members to embody new identities in relation to national citizenship, militarism, and masculinity in more inclusive ways. Jabir also establishes how these musical practices of the regiment persisted long after the Civil War in Black culture, resisting, for instance, the paternalism and co-optive state antiracism of the film Glory, and the assumption that Blacks need to be deracinated to be full citizens.
Reflecting the structure of the ring shout—the counterclockwise song, dance, drum, and story in African American history and culture—Conjuring Freedom offers three new concepts to cultural studies in order to describe the practices, techniques, and implications of the troop’s performance: (1) Black Communal Conservatories, borrowing from Robert Farris Thompson’s “invisible academies” to describe the structural but spontaneous quality of black music-making, (2) Listening Hermeneutics, which accounts for the generative and material affects of sound on meaning-making, and (3) Sonic Politics, which points to the political implications of music’s use in contemporary representations of race and history.

ISBN-13: 9780814253946

Media Type: Paperback(1)

Publisher: Ohio State University Press

Publication Date: 03-07-2017

Pages: 194

Product Dimensions: (w) x (h) x 0.60(d)

Series: Black Performance and Cultural Criticism

Johari Jabir is Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Table of Contents

Prelude vii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 A Strange Fulfillment of Dreams; Racial Fetish and Fantasy in Thomas Wentworth Higginson's Army Life in a Black Regiment 25

Chapter 2 The Collective Will to Conjure: Religion, Ring Shout, and Spiritual Militancy in a Black Regiment 53

Chapter 3 One More Valiant Soldier: Music and Masculinity in a Black Regiment 88

Chapter 4 Moon Rise: Songs of Loss, Lament, and Liberation in a Black Regiment 107

Chapter 5 Military "Glory" or Racial Horror 126

Postlude My Army Cross Over 140

Bibliography 159

Index of Songs 170

General Index 172