portals -- week three

    (Wednesday, January 19)

"The music [blues] is ours [African-Americans], since it contains our soul, so to speak--it contains all our ideas and responses to the world. We need it to help us claim the African-ness and we would be a stronger people for it. It's presently in the hands of someone else who sits over it as custodian, without even allowing us its source."

               --August Wilson

Recommended readings for this week:

Henry J. Elam, Jr. The Past as Present
Dana Williams and Sandra Shannon, eds. Black Aesthetics
Peter Wolf. August Wilson

"Thus, the African, exile, pagan, hurried of the auction block and into the fields, fell on his knees before that God in whom he must now beleive; Who had made him, but not in His image. This tableau, this impossibility, is the heritage of the Negro in America."

                                        --James Baldwin (from his essay "Everybody's Protest Novel")

A few questions to ponder:

  •    Who's the main character of  Ma Rainey
  •    What's the significance of the title?
  •    What is the role of religion in the play?
  •    Three of Wilson's plays use music in the title and musicians populate his other plays. Beyond the   obvious, how does music inform character, action, theme?

(Saturday, January 22)

Screening is 1 pm for Sunday in the Park with George (no class)
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom begins at 7:30 pm at the Seattle Rep.
Tickets will be circulated at the box office at 7 pm.

Useful research links:


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