Born in a Mighty Bad Land

Born in a Mighty Bad Land : The Violent Man in African American Folklore and Fiction

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The figure of the violent man in the African American imagination has a long history. He can be found in 19th-century bad man ballads like "Stagolee" and "John Hardy," as well as in the black convict recitations that influenced "gangsta" rap. "Born in a Mighty Bad Land" connects this figure with similar characters in African American fiction. Many writers-McKay and Hurston in the Harlem Renaissance; Wright, Baldwin, and Ellison in the '40s and '50s; Himes in the '50s and '60s-saw the "bad nigger" as an archetypal figure in the black imagination and psyche. "Blaxploitation" novels in the '70s made him a virtually mythical character. More recently, Mosley, Wideman, and Morrison have presented him as ghetto philosopher and cultural adventurer. Behind the folklore and fiction, many theories have been proposed to explain the source of the bad man's intra-racial violence. Jerry H. Bryant explores all of these elements in a wide-ranging and illuminating look at one of the most misunderstood figures in African American culture.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 14mm | 358.34g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 1 bibliog., 1 index
  • 0253215781
  • 9780253215789
  • 2,020,777

About Jerry H. Bryant

Jerry H. Bryant is Emeritus Professor of English at California State University.show more

Table of contents

Preliminary Table of Contents: Introduction1. The Classic Badman and the BalladThe Badman BoasterThe Faces of Stagolee2. Postbellum Violence and Its Causes: "Displaced Rage" in a Preindustrial Culture3. Between the Wars: The Genteel Novel, Counter Stereotypes, and Initial ProbesReligion, Romance, and RacePaul Laurence Dunbar: Southern Innocence, Northern SinJames Weldon Johnson: Murder in RagtimeJames D. Corrothers and The Black Cat Club4. From the Genteel to the Primitive: The Twenties and ThirtiesThe "New Negro" Finds the FolkRudolph Fisher's Harlem TourClaude McKay's Home to HarlemArna Bontemps's "Don't-Care Folk"Zora Neale Hurston: Country Men and Women5. The Ghetto Bildungsroman: From the Forties to the SeventiesRichard Wright: Bigger Thomas and a New ConsciousnessJames Baldwin: Escaping from ViolenceRalph Ellison's RinehartThe Ghetto SettingThe Nurturing Ghetto I (Mark Kennedy and Herbert Simmons)The Nurturing Ghetto II: The Autobiographical Vision (Claude Brown)The Struggle for Moral Character (Ronald Fair and George Cain)The Code of the Street: The Bildungsroman World Updated6. Toasts: Tales of the "Bad Nigger"The Toast and Its MysteriesReturn to StagoleeThe Put-DownThe Fall7. Chester Himes: Harlem AbsurdA Man of AngerThe Harlem NovelsThe BadmenCoffin Ed and Grave Digger8. A "Toast" Novel: Pimps, Hoodlums and Hit MenThe Struggle Between the "Hip" and the "Lame"The "Hip" VictoriousAnger Over White RacismThe Violent StyleThe Fantasy of Sexual DominanceInstinct, Justice, and the Allure of The LifeA Special Kind of Squalor, A Special Kind of GuiltIceberg Slim and Donald Goines9. Walter Mosley and the Violent Men of WattsSocrates FortlowRaymond "Mouse" AlexanderEasy Rawlins10. Rap: Going Commercial11. The Badman and the Storyteller: John Edgar Wideman's Homewood Tshow more

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