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Phantom Limbs Dancing Juba Rites in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The Piano Lesson

  • Reggie Young

Abstract

In Signifying Monkey, Henry Louis Gates claims “If ‘the Dixie Pike,’ as Jean Toomer put the matter in Cane, ‘has grown from a goat path in Africa,’ then the black vernacular tradition stands as its signpost, at the liminal crossroads of culture contact and ensuing difference at which Africa meets Afro-America” (4). If this figurative path can be looked upon as a cultural corridor that connects African and African American cultures, it has had transported upon it much more than a vernacular tradition of language usage—it is also the thoroughfare used by the people of African descent to transport their spiritual beliefs and ritual practices for use in their everyday American lives. August Wilson, throughout his ever-evolving canon of plays, but more specifically in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The Piano Lesson, explores what critic and playwright Paul Carter Harrison calls the “bedrock of racial memory and particularity of expression,” one that transcends the Middle Passage. In his plays, Wilson reveals the interrelationship between physical and metaphysical reality in black diasporic culture, a relationship that has been surveyed increasingly by African American expressive artists in various genres over the last several decades and one in which the reconciling of the slave past is an important factor in personal redemption.

Keywords

Phantom Limb Christian Faith Ritual Practice Master Narrative African American Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Sandra Shannon and Dana Williams 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reggie Young

There are no affiliations available

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