Separating the substance from the noise: a survey of the Black arts movement

Hutchinson, Yvette (2003) Separating the substance from the noise: a survey of the Black arts movement. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis will survey the Black Arts Movement in America from the early 1960s to the 1970s. The Movement was characterised by a proliferation of poetry, exhibitions and plays. Rather than close textual analyses, the thesis will take a panoramic view of the Movement considering the movement's two main aims: the development of a canon of work and the establishment of black institutions.

The main critical arguments occasioned by these literary developments contributed to the debate on the establishment of a Black Aesthetic through an essentialist approach to the creation and assessment of black art works. This survey considers the motivations behind the artists' essentialism, recognising their aim to challenge white criticism of black forms of cultural expression.

Underpinning the Movement's critical discourse was the theme of blackness, a philosophy of racial consciousness that blended a rather crude biological determinism with the ideology of a unique black experience. Physical blackness, the racial identity shared by black-skinned people of all hues and shades, determined their social, economic and educational opportunities. It was from these shared factors that a philosophy of blackness was pursued and the thesis assesses the attempt by black writers and thinkers to develop a theory of black cultural expression for their creative and critical works.

The impact of blackness and the Movement's success in achieving its aims are evaluated through an analysis of the debate on black aesthetics, the New Black Poetry Movement, dissent in the work of Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed and womanist essentialism in the poetry and fiction of black women writers. The thesis concludes by acknowledging the influence of the Black Arts Movement on future black writers particularly in the discourse of the "New Black Aesthetic".

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: King, R.H.
Keywords: Black aesthetic, Mass media, Performing arts, Anthropology, Folklore
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of American and Canadian Studies
Item ID: 11072
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2010 10:55
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 18:24

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