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The Shadow and the ActBlack Intellectual Practice, Jazz Improvisation, and Philosophical Pragmatism$
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Walton M. Muyumba

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226554235

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226554259.001.0001

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Introduction Vamping 'til Ready

Introduction Vamping 'til Ready

Pragmatism and Jazz Improvisation

(p.1) Introduction Vamping 'til Ready
The Shadow and the Act
University of Chicago Press

This chapter concentrates on Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka to participate in the ongoing discourse that positions black writers within the lineage of American pragmatism. It connects definition with the work that critics, such as Ross Posnock, Michael Magee, Nancy Fraser, and Eddie Glaude, Jr., have done to position writers and philosophers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and Zora Neale Hurston as significant participants in the history of pragmatism. Then, it describes the relationship between enthomusicological definitions of improvisation and improvisation as cultural and philosophical theory. Conceptions of idiomatic vernacular practices are central to pragmatist methods. The great innovation of twentieth-century art was the introduction and refinement of jazz improvisation into a specific aesthetic. Jones/Baraka, Ellison, and Baldwin attempted to negotiate the problems of race and identity while also proposing narratives for reimagining the American social arrangements and democratic political theory.

Keywords:   Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, LeRoi Jones, Amiri Baraka, American pragmatism, jazz improvisation, Ross Posnock, Michael Magee, Nancy Fraser, Alain Locke

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