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Call & Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition [Audio CD]

Robert H. Cataliotti


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Book Description

January 1998 0395875099 978-0395875094
More than a decade in the making, Call and Response is a ground-breaking anthology of African American literature, unique in its placing equal emphasis on the written and the oral dimensions of the black aesthetic. It traces the centuries-long emergence of this distinct literary tradition from its earliest roots in African proverbs, folktales, and chants to its latest flowering in the works of such writers as Rita Dove, August Wilson, and Terry McMillan. Here, in 2,000 pages and 550 selections, is (in the words of Richard Wright) the "long black song" of African American life, sung in a great choir of voices, from the slaves of the 1600s to the rap artists, orators, novelists, and poets of today.

Among the works included are Frederick Douglass's Life and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye--both presented complete and unabridged. Here too are hundreds of spirituals and work songs, jazz and blues lyrics, poems, plays, stories, and speeches. An audio CD, produced in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, features many of the texts as spoken or sung by their creators.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395875099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395875094
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 5.5 x 0.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 23 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #872,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book sings to me Aug. 5 2001
By Paul August - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is no mere literary anthology. It's a history, a cultural statement and a new way of looking at the African American tradition. Song lyrics weave themselves through the poems, around the stories, under the essays and beyond the non-fiction articles. Where else could anyone find the rhetoric of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the old down home Virginny blues of Jimmy Reed?
This has the speech that Jesse Jackson gave to the Democratic convention in San Francisco in 1984. I was there. It was a big moment at the time but I didn't recognize it as an historical event until I found it printed here.
The book itself feels like the typical blues song. We Rhythm and Blues kids used to call it a 12 bar blues. This is a song where the first two lines were repeated and then came the summary. In section IV, the subtitle reads, "Play the blues, play the blues for me." Section V repeats the same words. Section VI has the summary line: "No other music'll ease my misery." I can put these words to the standard 12 bar blues tune in my mind.
Hill delicately reaches back to the lyrics from spirituals, prison songs, rural blues, ragtime and back to slave work songs and their African origins. She advances the music through R & B into Avant-Garde Jazz and Rap and Hip Hop. The book contains a CD with songs and speeches.
The music entices us into the literary content. There's more here than the usual fiction, drama, poetry and essays. I found sermons, toasts, prayers, and folktales, both slave and African. Readers may be unfamiliar with some of the classifications -- Conjure tales, Griot's chant, haunt tales and "Call and Response."
We follow the history of a people through the writings of slave poets, the abolitionist orators, the fugitive slave narratives, preacher tales, and the voices of reconstruction. It continues through to contemporary fiction and non-fiction writers.
It's not an easy book to read because every time I look for one idea, I get distracted by selections like, "Sketches from a Black-Nappy-Headed Poet," or "Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane."
I confess, I know more about the music than the literature. This book draws me in with artists like Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, Howlin' Wolf, Oscar Brown, Jr., Public Enemy and Ice T. After I'm involved, I'm learning about Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Frances Watkins Harper and Sojourner Truth.
I'm afraid that if I were to ask the average American high school student to name three African American literary figures, he or she would say: Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughs and then stop there. Some might add Alice Walker. This text puts those writers in their place and, given the wealth of content here, they occupy a small place compared with all who surround them.
I came upon this book as I was participating in the Urban Dreams Program, a federal project to train high school teachers in computer technology. Pat Hill spoke to our group. She impressed us all with her spirit, her knowledge and her comprehensive understanding of the African American tradition. To the degree that I've been positively influenced by her dynamic presence, I caution the reader of this review to be aware than I may have elevated her book higher than if I had not seen Hill in person. Other than that, this book is one of my personal favorites which will never be loaned out to anyone, ever. So please, my friends, don't even ask.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to use book Jan. 31 2001
By F. Grant Whittle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although there is no faulting the content of this book, I do have issues with its presentation. As a literature textbook, it offers little to the user in the way of navigation. The page headers refer not to the authors or works on those pages, but instead to the abritrary titles of the Editors' sections. In this way, it is well-nigh impossible to find anything in the book. Further, the book could have done with explanatory footnotes in the texts and even something so simple as a publication/writing date for each of the selections.
The editor's notes are quite extensive, perhaps too much so. They spend a lot of time advancing their theories about the development of African American literature when they should be presenting the texts and leaving the reader to decide.
However, as I said, I cannot fault the content itself, which is very good, allowing the student a wide breadth of material, much of it by authors who are otherwise ignored by other anthologies. But much of this material is also covered in other anthologies which are much easier to navigate.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective Aug. 9 2009
By JC's mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in literary criticism - there are others who are far more qualified for such endeavors. However, I will say that this textbook opened my eyes to how differently a similar topic is treated depending upon the authors'/editors' position in the world. I recently took an American Lit course which touched on many of the same literary works, i.e., Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Sojourner Truth, etc. What caught my attention was the extensiveness with with the introductory material was reviewed. The American Lit intro had a more white/American perspective where as Call & Response, as one would expect, had an African-American perspective and, as such, provided more foundational information about the author and the period itself. I now feel that I have a better and fuller understanding of the position these authors were writing from. Additionally, this text covers the early years of slavery through contemporary authors such as Toni Morrison.

While I purchased this book for an African-American lit course I am taking, it would be beneficial reading for anyone seeking insight into this literary discourse Needless to say, this text will remain a part of my personal library.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent April 25 2014
By Mocha - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Call & Response was my text book when I studied African American Literature in college. Unfortunately for me, I loaned my book out and of course I never got it back. I was really happy when I found the book on amazon. Needless to say wil not loan this copy out. Thank you Amazon!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Price for my book Oct. 18 2013
By Laney Woodcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My Professor for my African American Literature class is the Primary Editor for this text, and in our University bookstore the anthology ran for something like 200 dollars. But I got it here for less than 50, brand new. stoked.

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