Muyumba connects their writings on jazz to the philosophical tradition of pragmatism, particularly its support for more freedom for individuals and more democratic societies. He examines the way they responded to and elaborated on that lineage, showing how they significantly broadened it by addressing the African American experience, especially its aesthetics. Ultimately, Muyumba contends, the trio enacted pragmatist principles by effectively communicating the social and political benefits of African Americans fully entering society, thereby compelling America to move closer to its democratic ideals.
“This is an extraordinary book. Walton Muyumba’s pathbreaking account of Ellison, Baraka, and Baldwin’s aesthetic theories and the connection between those theories and African American politics is creative and convincing.”
Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Princeton University
“Walton Muyumba’s compelling book shows how Ellison, Baldwin, and Baraka drew upon ‘the music’ as they rethought the contours of blackness and recast the pragmatist pursuit of democracy in ways that were beholden to African American experiences and aesthetics. By doing so, The Shadow and the Act helps us to better understand the profound ways that jazz, as an intellectual as well as a creative practice, shaped African American letters and its gendered politics during the second half of the twentieth century.”This volume will be published on 1 July 2009. Pre-order your copy today from any of these fine booksellers:
Eric Porter, University of California, Santa Cruz
Barnes & Noble
University of Chicago Press