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Spectacular Blackness

The Cultural Politics of the Black Power Movement and the Search for a Black Aesthetic
Amy Abugo Ongiri

BUY Cloth · 240 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813928593 · $60.00 · Dec 2009
BUY Paper · 240 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813928609 · $25.00 · Dec 2009
BUY Ebook · 240 pp. · ISBN 9780813929606 · $25.00 · Dec 2009

Exploring the interface between the cultural politics of the Black Power and the Black Arts movements and the production of postwar African American popular culture, Amy Ongiri shows how the reliance of Black politics on an oppositional image of African Americans was the formative moment in the construction of "authentic blackness" as a cultural identity. While other books have adopted either a literary approach to the language, poetry, and arts of these movements or a historical analysis of them, Ongiri's captures the cultural and political interconnections of the postwar period by using an interdisciplinary methodology drawn from cinema studies and music theory. She traces the emergence of this Black aesthetic from its origin in the Black Power movement's emphasis on the creation of visual icons and the Black Arts movement's celebration of urban vernacular culture.


Spectacular Blackness is one of the sharpest discussions of the Black Arts Movement, Black Power, and popular culture that I have encountered. It is the best account of the cultural impact of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense that I have read.

James Smethurst, University of Massachusetts, Amherst · author of The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

Spectacular Blackness is a most important contribution to discussions in progress of the Black Arts Movement and the Black Power era in general. From readings of Chester Himes and Richard Wright to explications of Amiri Baraka and Melvin van Peebles, this book will reward readers with a succession of carefully constructed critiques. Spectacular Blackness is a model of what good interdisciplinary study should look like.

Aldon L. Nielsen, Pennsylvania State University · author of Black Chant

About the Author(s): 

Amy Abugo Ongiri is Assistant Professor in the English Department and Film and Media Studies Program at the University of Florida.

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