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Postmodern Soul: The Innovative Nostalgia of Thomas Sayers Ellis

Postmodern Soul: The Innovative Nostalgia of Thomas Sayers Ellis K E I T H D. L E O N A R D history repeats its mama . . . Thomas Sayers Ellis am surprised that there are not more black artists and scholars of black literature talking about nostalgia. This absence is particularly striking since so many contemporary artists have turned to past icons for their art, and since there has been such a rich scholarly examination of African American cultural memory.1 Part of the problem, I am sure, is that so many contemporary artists and intellectuals have claimed to be "post" something, with "postsoul" being the most prominent and most widely accepted of these terms, all of which imply that the present is leaving the past behind. Another part of the problem is that there is little in African American history to be celebrated in the traditional rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Thus the so-called post-soul generation actively and rightly resists the "restorative nostalgia" (to use Svetlana Boym's term) at play in what Erica R. Edwards calls the official hagiography of the soul era, with that narrative's inimical implication that we 1. Numerous dissertations on African American culture have been written with the phrases "historical memory," "collective http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Postmodern Soul: The Innovative Nostalgia of Thomas Sayers Ellis

Contemporary Literature , Volume 56 (2) – Sep 1, 2015

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.
ISSN
1548-9949
Publisher site
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Abstract

K E I T H D. L E O N A R D history repeats its mama . . . Thomas Sayers Ellis am surprised that there are not more black artists and scholars of black literature talking about nostalgia. This absence is particularly striking since so many contemporary artists have turned to past icons for their art, and since there has been such a rich scholarly examination of African American cultural memory.1 Part of the problem, I am sure, is that so many contemporary artists and intellectuals have claimed to be "post" something, with "postsoul" being the most prominent and most widely accepted of these terms, all of which imply that the present is leaving the past behind. Another part of the problem is that there is little in African American history to be celebrated in the traditional rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Thus the so-called post-soul generation actively and rightly resists the "restorative nostalgia" (to use Svetlana Boym's term) at play in what Erica R. Edwards calls the official hagiography of the soul era, with that narrative's inimical implication that we 1. Numerous dissertations on African American culture have been written with the phrases "historical memory," "collective

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Sep 1, 2015

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