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Thinking the Blues

The blues is now expansively celebrated: as music, art, literature, cultural sensibility, and social history. What about approaching it as intellectual history? This has always been an element of blues study, from the subtle work of Zora Neale Hurston to Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray’s modernist, liberal take on the form to Amiri Baraka’s radical interpretations to Angela Davis’s black feminist examinations.[1] Folklorist William Ferris’s box set of his field recordings allows us to take stock of the ways in which we might better consider the blues not just as artistic expression, but also as ideational investigation—as thinking. Ferris’s documentary Read more