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Title: "Is That Religion?" The Jazz Profession and Afro-Protestant Cultural Representation
Authors: Booker, Vaughn Angelo
Advisors: Weisenfeld, Judith
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: African American Religious History
Black Christianity
Duke Ellington
Subjects: Religion
African American studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the lives and work of Cabell “Cab” Calloway III (1907-1994), Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974), Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917-1996), and Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) to analyze these jazz musicians’ practices of representation: professional representations of African Americans and of African American religious expressions, and personal representations of religious and racial commitments and practices. The framework of representation centers the images, scenes, roles, discourses, and music of African American religious practice—often presented as authentic reproduction—as content for popular consumption, criticism, invested religious reflection, and potential religious innovation. Six thematic chapters structure my analysis of racial and religious representations as well as religious beliefs and practices in the twentieth century, covering critical discourses in the black religious press, musicians’ live performances, recording sessions, prose, autobiographies, film, press interviews, business papers, and private reflections for posthumous audiences. Through these jazz musicians and their representations, this dissertation illuminates the significant Afro-Protestant cultural presence that informed, surrounded, opposed, and contributed artistic fodder for their professional and personal lives. For African American religious history, I contribute a reframing of Afro-Protestantism as a mode of professional, middle-class cultural production relative to other emergent African American religions and their popular cultural production in the first half of the twentieth century. With this study of the jazz profession, scholars may reconsider Afro-Protestantism as a “religious movement” throughout twentieth-century black popular culture, beyond its traditional regard in the language of religious institutions, in order to generate broader notions of African American women and men’s religious “work” and leadership in emerging twentieth-century professions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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