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Title page for ETD etd-06132011-171339

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hines, Andrew Joseph
Author's Email Address andrew.j.hines@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-06132011-171339
Title Black and Blue: Jazz, Technology, and Afro-Diasporic Identity
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Houston A. Baker Jr. Committee Chair
  • records
  • album covers
  • appropriation
  • technology
  • jazz poetry
  • jazz studies
  • phonographs
  • African Diaspora
Date of Defense 2011-07-22
Availability unrestricted
Instead of thinking of jazz in the hackneyed vocabulary of “canon-building,” I explore jazz as a technological construction very much built to reshape spatial and temporal boundaries across the African Diaspora. Jazz technê, a techno-fusion of art and craft, comes out of a tension and distance between notated music in the classical genre and music played by ear, usually hymns, folk songs, and the blues. I trace this tension through the development of a fictional ragtime pianist in James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and the education of Thelonious Monk, “the high priest of bebop.” With this technology converted to language, a poet like Barbadian Kamau Brathwaite is able to collapse distance to create a space for the articulation of both particular identity (for him, Afro-Caribbean) and broader identity (and Afro-Diasporic).

Jazz technê enables the creation of a unique space that is akin to the imaginary space of the Black “underground,” where the narrator of Ellison’s Invisible Man uses it to create an emancipatory invisibility, evading the racializing gaze above. Yet, Ellison’s essay “Living with Music” and the visual representations of jazz album covers suggest a potentially destructive alternative to this emancipation, especially when the performance of jazz is mediated by the music industry and sound reproduction technologies—jazz is as integral, essential, and at times submerged as Lucius Brockway is as “the machine inside the machine.”

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