Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism

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SUNY Press, 1995 - Music - 197 pages
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Spectacular Vernaculars examines hip-hop's cultural rebellion in terms of its specific implications for postmodern theory and practice, using the politics of reception as its primary rhetorical ground. Hip-hop culture in general, and rap music in particular, present model sites for such an inquiry, since they enact both postmodern modes of production--the appropriation of tropes, technologies, and material culture--and a potential means of resistance to the commodification of cultural forms under late capitalism. By paying specific attention to the historical and cultural context of hip-hop as a black artform and locating its practice of resistance in terms of a postmodernist reading of consumer culture, this book offers a complex reading of hip-hop as a postmodern practice, with implications both for theories of postmodernism and cultural studies as a whole.

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Page 9 - The overall impact of postmodernism is that many other groups now share with black folks a sense of deep alienation, despair, uncertainty, loss of a sense of grounding even if it is not informed by shared circumstance. Radical postmodernism calls attention to those shared sensibilities which cross the boundaries of class, gender, race, etc., that could be fertile ground for the construction of empathy - ties that would promote recognition of common commitments, and serve as a base for solidarity...
Page 1 - It is sadly ironic that the contemporary discourse which talks the most about heterogeneity, the decentered subject, declaring breakthroughs that allow recognition of Otherness, still directs its critical voice primarily to a specialized audience that shares a common language rooted in the very master narratives it claims to challenge. If radical postmodernist thinking is to have a transformative impact, then a critical break with the notion of "authority" as "mastery over" must not simply be a rhetorical...

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About the author (1995)

Russell A. Potter is Assistant Professor of English at Colby College. He hosts a weekly radio program, Roots-n-Rap, in Waterville, Maine.

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