Scoring Race
Title Details

247 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

1 b/w. Illustrations

Series: African Articulations

Imprint: James Currey

Scoring Race

Jazz, Fiction, and Francophone Africa

by Pim Higginson

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
Reveals the importance of the jazz craze in France between the two world wars and the French construction of jazz as a "black music" - an exoticization which had wide-reaching effects on the artistic output of the African diaspora and on contemporary perceptions of black writers, musicians and film makers.
What are the cultural implications of Louis Armstrong's 1960 visit to Africa? Why are so many postcolonial novels in French fascinated with jazz? In defining jazz as "black music", France's "jazzophilia" has had wide-reaching effects on contemporary perceptions of the artistic and political efficacy of black writers, musicians, and their aesthetic productions. Scoring Race explores how jazz masters Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane became touchstones for claims to African authorship and aesthetic subjectivity across the long twentieth century.
The book focuses on how this naturalization of black musicality occurred and its impact on Francophone African writers and filmmakers for whom the idea of their own essential musicality represented an epistemological obstacle. Despite this obstacle, because of jazz's profound importance to diaspora aesthetics, as well as its crucial role in the French imaginary, many African writers have chosen to make it a structuring principle of their literary projects.
In Scoring Race Pim Higginson draws on race theory, aesthetics, cultural studies,musicology, and postcolonial studies to examine the convergence of aesthetics and race in Western thought and to explore its impact on Francophone African literature. How and why, Pim Higginson asks, did these writers and filmmakers approach jazz and its participation in and formalization of the "racial score"? To what extent did they reproduce the terms of their own systematic expulsion into music and to what extent, in their impossible demand for writing(or film-making), did they arrive at tactical means of working through, around, or beyond the strictures of their assumed musicality?

Pim Higginson is Professor of Global French Studies at the University of New Mexico,Albuquerque.
Introduction. Scoring Race: Music, Writing and Difference in a French Context
Jazz Fictions and the French Novel: Four Cases
Querying Jazz: Early Francophone African Engagements with the Racial Score
Challenging the Score: Francophone African Reconfigurations of Jazz Today
Black Bodies, Black Sounds: Film and the Racial Score
Bibliography
"Scoring Race is a significant contribution to French world literary criticism, francophone postcolonial studies, and African cultural studies." WASAFIRI
"Contribution majeure aux études culturelles africaines....L'écriture est assurée et énergique, le propos clair, la démonstration sans fioritures, l'approche transdisciplinaire (anthropologie, théorie littéraire, critique, philosophie- épistémologie, herméneutique, métaphysique)." NOUVELLES ÉTUDES FRANCOPHONES
"Scoring Race will be of interest to those examining the racially fraught relationship between jazz, its colonial and postcolonial audiences, and the critics, novelists, and filmmakers who incorporate it in their works as they attempt to maneuver with, or outmaneuver, an iconic but ambiguous musical heritage." STUDIES IN 20TH & 21ST CENTURY LITERATURE
"Higginson constructs his argument carefully and meticulously, each chapter building on the previous one. This is a book that actually rewards a linear reading from cover to cover. [...] While students of literature will find immediate value in Higginson's close readings, both jazz scholars and those seeking to better understand the working of race in French intellectual life would find much of interest in these five, dense, chapters." Journal of the African Literature Association

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9781847011558

June 2017

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Title Details

247 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

1 b/w. Illustrations

Series: African Articulations

Imprint: James Currey