A Preview of Summer Books in Black StudiesHistorians in the News
tags: books, African American history
There are a plethora of books being released this summer which will be of special interest to readers of this blog. Numerous works that pertain to Black intellectual history will come out during the summer, a time of the year that many academics savor as the best chance during the year to sit down and digest new works of scholarship (against the backdrop of summer teaching, researching, writing, and prep for the fall). This post is the first in a series of essays describing upcoming works of history important to Black intellectual history and Black history more broadly speaking. This list will not be cumulative or exhaustive. Instead, it is meant both to highlight works that have come out in April or are coming out in May, and also to encourage all of us to keep an eye out for additional works during those months. Later posts will detail the release of exciting new works in June, July, and August.
The realm of Black art is an important part of Black intellectual history. Glenda Gilmore’s new book on the life and career of Romare Bearden, Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination: An Artist’s Reckoning With the South, promises to add valuable insight into the career of one of the landmark Black artists of the post-World War II era. Gilmore, author of previous works such as Gender and Jim Crow and Defying Dixie, continues to add to her work as one of the premier historians of the South by focusing her academic lens on Bearden. This promises to be a critically important work on Black life during the American century, as Bearden’s artwork spoke to the Black experience in America at that time.
Another work from UNC Press already sparking discussion is Irvin J. Hunt’s Dreaming the Present: Time, Aesthetics, and the Black Cooperative Movement. Hunt’s argument is for a deeper consideration of how various Black activists and intellectuals considered mutual aid as an integral part of imagining new possibilities beyond the stale politics of the present. The use of such figures as W.E.B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer, George Schuyler, and Ella Baker promises to add further depth to how these figures are understood in both an intellectual and activist history context. More than that, however, Dreaming the Present will likely offer intellectual historians new methodological and theoretical frameworks by which to consider how intellectuals of the past dreamt and imagined possible futures. At the core of much of Black intellectual history, after all, is the consideration of a multitude of possible futures.
Going further back in time, the Black Atlantic receives a strong new entry from Michael Lawrence Dickinson and his book, Almost Dead: Slavery and Social Rebirth in the Black Urban Atlantic, 1680-1807. Dickinson’s book will offer plenty of fodder for intellectual historians of the Black Atlantic and the Revolutionary era to consider how urban spaces provided room for peoples of African descent to create community and resist domination by European powers. For readers of Black Perspectives, where urban spaces have been discussed in an intellectual context, this book promises to create additional reasons to tackle the intellectual importance of urban spaces.
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