Noises in the Blood

Orality, Gender, and the"Vulgar" Body of Jamaican Popular Culture

Noises in the Blood

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: Published: February 1995

Author: Carolyn Cooper

Caribbean Studies, Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

The language of Jamaican popular culture—its folklore, idioms, music, poetry, song—even when written is based on a tradition of sound, an orality that has often been denigrated as not worthy of serious study. In Noises in the Blood, Carolyn Cooper critically examines the dismissed discourse of Jamaica’s vibrant popular culture and reclaims these cultural forms, both oral and textual, from an undeserved neglect.
Cooper’s exploration of Jamaican popular culture covers a wide range of topics, including Bob Marley’s lyrics, the performance poetry of Louise Bennett, Mikey Smith, and Jean Binta Breeze, Michael Thelwell’s novelization of The Harder They Come, the Sistren Theater Collective’s Lionheart Gal, and the vitality of the Jamaican DJ culture. Her analysis of this cultural "noise" conveys the powerful and evocative content of these writers and performers and emphasizes their contribution to an undervalued Caribbean identity. Making the connection between this orality, the feminized Jamaican "mother tongue," and the characterization of this culture as low or coarse or vulgar, she incorporates issues of gender into her postcolonial perspective. Cooper powerfully argues that these contemporary vernacular forms must be recognized as genuine expressions of Jamaican culture and as expressions of resistance to marginalization, racism, and sexism.
With its focus on the continuum of oral/textual performance in Jamaican culture, Noises in the Blood, vividly and stylishly written, offers a distinctive approach to Caribbean cultural studies.


“An engaging contribution to cultural studies that decenters over-reliance on the novel and the scribal end of the written-oral continuum in discussions of Caribbean culture.” — Ruth E. Lindeborg, Research in African Literatures

“Cooper’s collection is not only an important contribution to the study of Jamaican literature, but is also of wider significance.” — , Anglistik

"Noises in the Blood is a highly original and important study that will change the direction of literary/cultural studies in the Caribbean. Fascinating and forcefully written." — Stewart Brown, Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham

"Noises in the Blood theorizes aspects of Caribbean popular culture in an exciting and new manner." — Selwyn R. Cudjoe, Wellesley College

"Carolyn Cooper’s book is lively, stimulating, challenging, witty, and skillfully-written. Noises in the Blood is the kind of text that a range of scholars and specialists and general readers in oral literature, cultural studies, African diaspora and Caribbean studies, popular culture, and cross-cultural literatures will find useful, helpful, and necessary." — Carole Boyce Davies, State University of New York, Binghamton


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Price: $25.95

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