Performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson’s provocative study examines how blackness is appropriated and performed—toward widely divergent ends—both within and outside African American culture. Appropriating Blackness develops from the contention that blackness in the United States is necessarily a politicized identity—avowed and disavowed, attractive and repellent, fixed and malleable. Drawing on performance theory, queer studies, literary analysis, film criticism, and ethnographic fieldwork, Johnson describes how diverse constituencies persistently try to prescribe the boundaries of "authentic" blackness and how performance highlights the futility of such enterprises.
Johnson looks at various sites of performed blackness, including Marlon Riggs’s influential documentary Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and comedic routines by Eddie Murphy, David Alan Grier, and Damon Wayans. He analyzes nationalist writings by Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver, the vernacular of black gay culture, an oral history of his grandmother’s experience as a domestic worker in the South, gospel music as performed by a white Australian choir, and pedagogy in a performance studies classroom. By exploring the divergent aims and effects of these performances—ranging from resisting racism, sexism, and homophobia to excluding sexual dissidents from the black community—Johnson deftly analyzes the multiple significations of blackness and their myriad political implications. His reflexive account considers his own complicity, as ethnographer and teacher, in authenticating narratives of blackness.
Bad Faith Good Faith
Ronald E. Santoni Temple University Press, 1995 Library of Congress B2430.S34S314 1995 | Dewey Decimal 128
From the beginning to the end of his philosophizing, Sartre appears to have been concerned with "bad faith"—our "natural" disposition to flee from our freedom and to lie to ourselves. Virtually no aspect of his monumental system has generated more attention. Yet bad faith has been plagued by misinterpretation and misunderstanding. At the same time, Sartre's correlative concepts of "good faith" and "authenticity" have suffered neglect or insufficient attention, or been confused and wrongly identified by Sartre scholars, even by Sartre himself.
Ronald E. Santoni takes on the challenge of distinguishing these concepts, and of showing whether either or both existential "attitudes" afford deliverance from the hell of Sartre's bad faith. He offers the first fill-scale analysis, reconstruction, and differentiation of these ways of existing as they develop in Sartre's early works (1937-1947).
Although he attempts to redeem Sartre's slighted concept of good faith, Santoni warns that it must not be viewed interchangeably with authenticity. Further, in one of the earliest and most sustained studies of Sartre's Notebooks for an Ethics available in English, Santoni shows how Sartre's posthumously published notes for an "ethics of Salvation" confirm his differentiation and argument. The way out of Sartrean hell, Santoni insists, is authenticity—living "with fidelity" to our unjustifiable freedom and assuming responsibility for it.
Although it is sometimes said that Martin Heidegger’s later philosophy no longer concerned itself with the theme of authenticity so crucial to Being and Time (1927), this book argues that his interest in authenticity was always strong.
After leaving the seminary to become a philosophy student, Heidegger began to “de–mythologize” religious themes for his own philosophical purposes. Like the Christian notion of faith, Heidegger’s notion of authenticity involves relinquishing the egotistical self–understanding which blocks our openness for possibilities. Yet authenticity as “resoluteness” includes an element of voluntarism foreign to the idea of faith. Heidegger’s brief engagement with National Socialism (1933–1934) helped him to re–think the Nietzschean concept of will which had influenced his early views on authenticity. Although part of the meaning of resoluteness is to allow things to be revealed, it also suggests that an individual can somehow will to be authentic. After about 1936, Heidegger emphasized that an individual can only be released from egoism (inauthenticity) by a power which transcends him. The abiding theological issue concerning the efficacy of works as against the saving power of grace finds expression in the distinction between resoluteness and releasement.
Authenticity is a notion much debated, among discussants as diverse as cultural theorists and art dealers, music critics and tour operators. The desire to find and somehow capture or protect the “authentic” narrative, art object, or ceremonial dance is hardly new. In this masterful examination of German and American folklore studies from the eighteenth century to the present, Regina Bendix demonstrates that the longing for authenticity remains deeply implicated in scholarly approaches to cultural analysis.
Searches for authenticity, Bendix contends, have been a constant companion to the feelings of loss inherent in modernization, forever upholding a belief in a pristine yet endangered cultural essence and fueling cultural nationalism worldwide. Beginning with precursors of Herder and Emerson and the “discovery” of the authentic in expressive culture and literature, she traces the different, albeit intertwined, histories of German Volkskunde and American folklore studies. A Swiss native educated in American folklore programs, Bendix moves effortlessly between the two traditions, demonstrating how the notion of authenticity was used not only to foster national causes, but also to lay the foundations for categories of documentation and analysis within the nascent field of folklore studies.
Bendix shows that, in an increasingly transcultural world, where Zulu singers back up Paul Simon and where indigenous artists seek copyright for their traditional crafts, the politics of authenticity mingles with the forces of the market. Arguing against the dichotomies implied in the very idea of authenticity, she underscores the emptiness of efforts to distinguish between folklore and fakelore, between echt and ersatz.
Modern and contemporary cultures are increasingly marked by an anxiety over a perceived loss of authentic cultural identity. In this book, Vincent J. Cheng examines why we still cling to notions of authenticity in an increasingly globalized world that has exploded notions of authentic essences and absolute differences.
Who is “authentic” and who is “other” in a given culture? Who can speak for the “other?” What do we mean by authenticity? These are critical questions that today’s world––brought closer together and yet pulled farther apart by globalism and neocolonialism––has been unable to answer. Inauthentic compellingly probes these issues through revealing case studies on the pursuit of authenticity and identity.
Each chapter explores the ways in which we construct “authenticity” in order to replace seemingly vacated identities, including: the place of minorities in academia; mixed-race dynamics; the popularity of Irish culture in America; the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland; Jewish American identity; the status of Jewish America in relation to Israel and Palestine; the cultural problems of international adoptions; and the rapidly changing nature of the Asian American population in the United States.
Inauthentic combines the scholarly and the personal, informed argument and human interest. It will undoubtedly appeal to academic scholars, as well as to a broader reading audience.
“Now and then,” writes Lionel Trilling, “it is possible to observe the moral life in process of revising itself.” In this new book he is concerned with such a mutation: the process by which the arduous enterprise of sincerity, of being true to one’s self, came to occupy a place of supreme importance in the moral life—and the further shift which finds that place now usurped by the darker and still more strenuous modern ideal of authenticity. Instances range over the whole of Western literature and thought, from Shakespeare to Hegel to Sartre, from Robespierre to R.D. Laing, suggesting the contradictions and ironies to which the ideals of sincerity and authenticity give rise, most especially in contemporary life. Lucid, and brilliantly framed, its view of cultural history will give Sincerity and Authenticity an important place among the works of this distinguished critic.
Modris Eksteins Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress DD239.E39 2012 | Dewey Decimal 943.085
Art dealer Otto Wacker’s 1932 sensational trial in Berlin for selling fake Van Goghs leads Eksteins to a unique narrative of a collapsing Weimar Germany, the rise of another misfit, Adolf Hitler, and the replacement of nineteenth-century certitude with twentieth-century doubt.
Our emerging world system is bringing the great traditions and cultures it has spawned into ever more intimate and dangerous contact. Langan argues that we must struggle toward a unity of discourse respectful of genuine experiences of varying civilizations if we are to live peacefully on one planet.