We’re celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a flash sale on all African American Studies books! All paperbacks are $15 and e-books are $5. Use Promo Code MLKDAY to get the discount. Hurry! Sale ends January 20.

Start shopping here: https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/find_books.html?type=subject&search=BLK


We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Bruno Nettl, beloved author, editor, colleague, and friend. Bruno cofounded the Society for Ethnomusicology, serving as its president (1969-1971) and serving an unparalleled two terms (1962-1966 and 1999-2002) as editor of its journal, Ethnomusicology. The seven books he published with the UI Press include his classic The Study of Ethnomusicology, now in its third edition; Nettl’s Elephant, the title (Bruno’s suggestion) reflecting a whimsical nod to his famous collection of elephant figurines; Heartland Excursions, an ethnomusicological study of that exotic locale, the American school of music; and, most recently, Following the Elephant, a themed collection of articles from the journal, curated and introduced by Bruno.

Bruno Nettl and his wife Wanda, 2014

With the support of many friends, UI Press has established the Bruno Nettl Endowment for Ethnomusicology, which supports publications by the University of Illinois Press in the field — reflecting Bruno’s legacy of mentorship and his care and cultivation of students and their work. For me personally, Bruno provided warm friendship and wise counsel from the moment I assumed responsibility for the Illinois music list from Judy McCulloh. Bruno was a longtime friend of Judy’s, and this photo of Bruno and his wife, Wanda, was taken by Stephen Wade at Judy’s memorial celebration in 2014.

The world is poorer now without Bruno in it. I will always cherish my memories of our friendship. When I last saw him, at his home shortly before Christmas, he was in good spirits and considering ideas for a new book. His wisdom, wit, and profound humanity will be missed.

-Laurie Matheson, Director

We are pleased to announce that Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage by Sowande’ M. Mustakeem has won the Dred Scott Freedom Award in the category Historical Literary Excellence from the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. The award will be presented on Saturday, March 28, 2020 in St. Louis, Missouri. Slavery at Sea has also been awarded the Wesley-Logan Prize from the American Historical Association in 2017. Congratulations Sowande’!

Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel is an assistant professor of French at the University of Michigan. She recently answered some questions about her book, Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

I wanted to learn more about how African and Caribbean women imagined liberation from
colonial rule. As a student in French I read about Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor who were hailed as the founders of the Negritude literary movement and as the architects of
decolonization in Martinique and Senegal. And the more I read the more I wondered about the women who had been sidelined in this history, whose names I knew but not much more than that. So, I started with a very basic question: “where were the women?” Thankfully, that question evolved into more questions about the roles they played, the importance of their work, and the shortcomings of their visions. But it was a starting point that made it clear to me that the dominant narratives I had first encountered are so unsatisfactory because they are partial and limited.

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

I feel very indebted to scholars like Irène d’Almeida, Renée Larrier, and Tracy Sharpley-Whiting whose studies on francophone women’s writings paved the way for me to even see my own work as a possibility. I am also very much influenced by the combined literary, cultural and historical approaches of scholars like Régine Jean-Charles, Marlene Daut, Laurent Dubois and others. Their work models how to read critically.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book? 

I was so blown away by the unrelenting courage of all of the women I write about in the book. One of the most interesting discoveries I made is that Jane Vialle was a spy in the French Resistance. Reading the interrogation transcripts of an African woman who was interned in a concentration camp during World War II and then broke out of prison gave me goosebumps! She was silent and stoic in the face of unspeakable terror and only wrote more openly about her fear after the war ended.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

The idea that Black women were secondary players in global intellectual and political
movements is unfortunately still prevalent. Sometimes I encounter dismissal of Black women’s work but more often I encounter people who have simply never thought to read seriously or engage substantively with Black women’s writings. I hope that my book will join the ranks of some insightful and much-needed new publications that highlight the centrality of Black women’s writings, activism, and theorizing.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

There are as many visions of liberation as there are women in the book. I hope readers will take away the one thing that underscored all these varied ideas about how to overthrow imperialism: urgency. The women I write about identified different strategies including poetic expression, voting rights, education, working within government, and working against government through grassroots organizing. But no matter the avenue they chose, they always stated clearly that empire had to be dismantled now.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of oppression in every facet of our lives, to become solelyconcerned with our own survival, to tell ourselves that we are working toward a long game. But the Black women in my book who imagined collective liberation did so even as they fought for their daily survival. For Paulette Nardal it was disability benefits, for Eslanda Robeson it was the right to cross borders freely. They remind me daily that collective liberation does not come after individual survival, it is survival.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?

I watch way too much TV. My current obsession is murder mysteries set in idyllic English
villages. It’s a plus if they feature award-winning strawberry scones. There is something oddly relaxing about priests and gardeners running around the English countryside solving murders.

Join us at the Spring Publishing Symposium!

February 14, 2020


Levis Faculty Center

909 West Illinois St., Urbana, IL

Registration will open in January 2020.

Lunch will be provided to those who pre-register by February 7, 2020.


See the current agenda here: https://www.press.uillinois.edu/about/symposium/

Get started on those new year’s resolutions to read more books with our January ebook giveaway! This month, we’re giving away Todd Haynes by Rob White in our Contemporary Film Directors Series.

Haynes most recently directed Dark Waters (2019) and Carol (2015). Rob White’s highly readable book, which includes a major new interview with Haynes, is the first comprehensive study of the director’s work. Special attention is paid to the fascination with music culture (from the Carpenters to glam rock) and to the rich pattern of allusions to, or affinity with, predecessor filmmakers (Fassbinder, Ophuls, Sirk, and many more). But White’s chief concern is the persistence of a queer impulse to explore social coercion and the possibility that there may be some way of escaping its cruelty.

But don’t take our word for it. The reviews are in:

“An impressive mix of high and low criticism. . . . White manages his various lines of inquiry with precision and a streamlined sense of significance and packing, making this book an excellent addition to the “Contemporary Film Directors” series.”–Slant Magazine

“White’s book is sharp and attentive, especially when the writing is intensified by the focus on an individual frame.”–Sight and Sound

“The first comprehensive study of Haynes’s achievements—is a most welcome addition to film studies. Highly recommended.”–Choice

“The book offers a sound account of a director who remains committed to addressing the shortcomings of contemporary America.”–Journal of American Culture

Still not convinced? Check out this Q&A with Rob White about the book here.

Get your copy here: http://bit.ly/JanBG


The University of Illinois Press is pleased to announce that Unsettled Scores: Politics, Hollywood, and the Film Music of Aaron Copland and Hanns Eisler by Sally Bick has been selected as a grant recipient from the Henry and Edna Binkele Classical Music Fund. This internal press fund was established in 1995 by two sisters in recognition of their parents, and supports publication of classical music books of the highest quality. Unsettled Scores exemplifies the spirit of this endowment.

Congrats, Sally!



To find out more, go to:


Every December since 2007 we have posted an annual list of our pop culture favorites. This year we have added a “Best of the Decade” component.  The University of Illinois Press Best of 2019 edition is in alphabetical order by staff member’s last name. Merry Holidays!

Angela Burton, Intellectual Property Manager
Favorite Book
: Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow; the Department Q series
Favorite music download: Rhiannon Giddens, “I’m On My Way”
Favorite TV Show: Watchmen, Better Things, Joe Pera Talks with You

Favorite live performance: Brandi Carlile, August 3, 2019
Website I visit every day: Justwatch
Favorite Podcast: POD Saves America
*****Best of the Decade*****
Film: Mad Max: Fury Road
TV: Please Like Me, The Americans
Book: Room by Emma Donaghue
Music: Brandi Carlile, By the Way, I Forgive You
Live Performance: Hamilton, CIBC Theatre

Heather Gernenz, Publicity Manager
Favorite Novels
: The Need by Helen Phillips, Bunny by Mona Awad, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Favorite Essay Collection: Trick Mirror: Essays on Self Delusion by Jia Tolentio
Favorite LP:  Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising, Michael Kiwanuka-Kiwanuka

Favorite Film:  Harriet, Ophelia
Favorite TV Shows:  Poldark, Fleabag
*****Best of the Decade*****
Music: every single Florence + The Machine album.
Best Literary Fiction:
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Untamed State by Roxanne Gay, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Euphoria by Lily King
Best Short Story Collection: Gutshot by Amelia Gray, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Best Series: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Imperial Radch Trilogy by Ann Leckie, The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, The Machineries of Empire Series by Yoon Ha Lee
Best Nonfiction: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman, The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin, H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.

Michael Roux, Marketing & Sales Manager
Favorite LP: Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

Favorite Film: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; Midsommar
Favorite TV Show: Succession
Favorite live performance: Bryan Ferry, Chicago, IL – August 1, 2019; Black Pumas, Urbana, IL – September 26, 2019

Website I visit every day: eBay.com
Favorite Podcast: The Ezra Klein Show
*****Best of the Decade*****
TV: True Detective season 1
Music: Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
Book: Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch
Concert: Joanna Newsom at the Chicago Theater, December 16, 2015


This August marked the 400th anniversary of slaves arriving in America. To commemorate the anniversary, The New York Times Magazine launched the 1619 Project, a major initiative led by Nikole Hannah-Jones, with the goal of re-framing our understanding of the impact of slavery and recognizing the contributions of Black Americans to American democracy.  The initiative has included a special issue of the magazine, podcasts, special events, a curriculum designed by the Pulitzer Center and more. Inspired by the 1619 Project, we’ve put together five lists of our publications related to the project on Black women’s activism, popular music, mass incarceration and lynching, sports and racism, and slavery, racism, and politics. As the year closes and a new decade beckons, we invite you to explore these lists alongside the 1619 Project and consider how we can use this important scholarship to move forward as a nation towards an antiracist future.

Black Popular Music Reading List

Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry

By Sandra Jean Graham

First brought to the stage by choral ensembles like the Fisk Jubilee Singers, spirituals anchored a wide range of late nineteenth-century entertainments, including minstrelsy, variety, and plays by both black and white companies. Graham navigates the conflicting agendas of those who, in adapting spirituals for their own ends, sold conceptions of racial identity to their patrons.




Jazz Internationalism: Literary Afro-Modernism and the Cultural Politics of Black Music

By John Lowney

Jazz emerged during the political and social upheaval of world war, communist revolution, Red Scares, and the Black Migration. Jazz Internationalism offers a bold reconsideration of jazz’s influence in Afro-modernist literature. Lowney examines how Claude McKay, Ann Petry, Langston Hughes, and many other writers employed jazz as both a critical social discourse and mode of artistic expression to explore the possibilities—and challenges—of black internationalism.


McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and the “Unseen Audience”: Constructing Blackness on the Radio

By Alyssa Mehnert

Menhert dissects the impact of the McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, a black dance band, who were known for their well-rehearsed performances of dance music, such as fox-trots and waltzes, as well as its “hot” soloists, blues compositions, and syncopated ensemble writing.

“He’s Calling His Flock Now”: Black Music and Postcoloniality from Buddy Bolden’s New Orleans to Sefyu’s Paris

By J. Griffith Rollefson

Rollefson performs an excavation of Bolden’s “en noir et blanc” to explore  colonizer/colonized aesthetics intermingling in postcolonial pop music.

Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago

By David Whiteis

Chicago blues continues to provide a soundtrack to, and a dynamic commentary on, the African American experience: the legacy of slavery; historic promises and betrayals; opportunity and disenfranchisement; the ongoing struggle for freedom.David Whiteis delves into how the current and upcoming Chicago blues generations carry on this legacy.




The Heart of a Woman: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price

By Rae Linda Brown

The Heart of a Woman offers the first-ever biography of Florence B. Price, a composer whose career spanned both the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, and the first African American woman to gain national recognition for her works. Brown traces the life of the extremely private individual from her childhood in Little Rock through her time at the New England Conservatory, her extensive teaching, and her struggles with racism, poverty, and professional jealousies.


Dancing Revolution: Bodies, Space, and Sound in American Cultural History

By Christopher J. Smith

Throughout American history, patterns of political intent and impact have linked the wide range of dance movements performed in public places. Smith presents richly diverse case studies to illuminate these patterns of movement and influence in movement and sound in the history of American public life. Multidisciplinary and wide-ranging, Dancing Revolution examines how Americans turned the rhythms of history into the movement behind the movements.



Questions of Genre in Black Popular Music

By David Brackett

What makes black popular music “black”? Brackett delves into the history of black music and the apparent connection between race and taste.

This House, This Music: Exploring the Interdependent Interpretive Relationship between the Contemporary Black Church and Contemporary Gospel Music

By Melinda E. Weekes

Weekes explores two sociological phenomena that have impacted the development of contemporary gospel music: integration and secularization.


Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement

By Naomi André

From classic films like Carmen Jones to contemporary works like The Diary of Sally Hemings and U-Carmen eKhayelitsa, American and South African artists and composers have used opera to reclaim black people’s place in history. Interacting with creators and performers, as well as with the works themselves, André reveals how black opera unearths suppressed truths. These truths provoke complex, if uncomfortable, reconsideration of racial, gender, sexual, and other oppressive ideologies.



A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music

By Robert M. Marovich

Marovich follows gospel music from early hymns and camp meetings through its growth into the sanctified soundtrack of the city’s mainline black Protestant churches. He also examines the entrepreneurial spirit that fueled gospel music’s rise to popularity and granted social mobility to a number of its practitioners. As Marovich shows, the music expressed a yearning for freedom from earthly pains, racial prejudice, and life’s hardships. Yet it also helped give voice to a people–and lift a nation.


Blackness in Opera

Edited by Naomi André, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor

Blackness in Opera critically examines the intersections of race and music in the multifaceted genre of opera.  The volume brings a wide-ranging, theoretically informed, interdisciplinary approach to questions about how blackness has been represented in these operas, issues surrounding characterization of blacks, interpretation of racialized roles by blacks and whites, controversies over race in the theatre and the use of blackface, and extensions of blackness along the spectrum from grand opera to musical theatre and film.


“The Ace of His Race”: Paul Whiteman’s Early Critical Reception in the Black Press

By Christopher J. Wells

As a prominent and wildly successful white jazz musician, Whiteman played a controversial role in the jazz community. Wells examines discussions surrounding Whiteman in the black press to highlight the range of opinions black writers held regarding Whiteman’s music.





The Creolization of American Culture: William Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy

By Christopher J. Smith

The Creolization of American Culture examines the artworks, letters, sketchbooks, music collection, and biography of the painter William Sidney Mount as a lens through which to see the antebellum world that gave birth to minstrelsy. Reading Mount’s renderings of black and white musicians against a background of historical sites and practices of cross-racial interaction, Smith offers a sophisticated reinterpretation of minstrelsy, significantly broadening historical views of black-white musical exchange.


Cover for Bauman: The Pekin: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black-Owned Theater. Click for larger imageThe Pekin: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black-Owned Theater

By Thomas Bauman

Dubbed the “Temple of Music,” the Pekin became one of the country’s most prestigious African American cultural institutions, renowned for its all-black stock company and school for actors, an orchestra able to play ragtime and opera with equal brilliance, and a repertoire of original musical comedies. A missing chapter in African American theatrical history, Bauman’s saga presents how political operator and gambling boss Robert T. Motts used his entrepreneurial acumen to create a successful black-owned enterprise.


Ring Shout, Wheel About: The Racial Politics of Music and Dance in North American Slavery

By Katrina Dyonne Thompson

Thompson examines the conceptualization and staging of race through the performance, sometimes coerced, of black dance from the slave ship to the minstrel stage. She shows how these performances informed white European and American understandings of race, influenced interactions between whites and blacks, and often held conflicting meanings in enslaved people’s lives.



The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word

By Meta DuEwa Jones

This wide-ranging, ambitiously interdisciplinary study traces jazz’s influence on African American poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary spoken word poetry. Jones highlights the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality within the jazz tradition and its representation in poetry. Applying prosodic analysis to emphasize the musicality of African American poetic performance, she examines the gendered meanings evident in collaborative performances and in the criticism, images, and sounds circulating within jazz cultures.


 What It Do, Shorty?: Women, Hip-Hop, and a Feminist Agenda

By Gwendolyn D. Pough

This essay examines spaces within hip-hop culture where hip-hop feminist thought and activism might make significant interventions. The essay is not concerned with hard-and-fast answers to the combination of feminism and hip-hop but rather with what hip-hop feminism might add to current conversations surrounding race, class, gender, and sexuality.




Island Gospel: Pentecostal Music and Identity in Jamaica and the United States

By Melvin L. Butler

Pentecostals throughout Jamaica use music to declare what they believe and where they stand in relation to religious and cultural outsiders. Butler explores what happens when secular music forms like ska, reggae, and dancehall force Pentecostals to reconcile their religious and cultural identities.





From Jim Crow to Jay-Z: Race, Rap, and the Performance of Masculinity

By Miles White

From Jim Crow to Jay-Z traces black male representations to chattel slavery and American minstrelsy as early examples of fetishization and commodification of black male subjectivity.  Arguing that black music has undeniably shaped American popular culture and that hip-hop tropes have exerted a defining influence on young male aspirations and behavior, White draws a critical link between the body, musical sound, and the construction of identity.


Make sure to check out previous lists on Black women’s activism, slavery, racism, and politics, mass incarceration and lynching, and sports and racism. You can find all the lists here. 



This August marked the 400th anniversary of slaves arriving in America. To commemorate the anniversary, The New York Times Magazine launched the 1619 Project, a major initiative led by Nikole Hannah-Jones, with the goal of re-framing our understanding of the impact of slavery and recognizing the contributions of Black Americans to American democracy.  The initiative has included a special issue of the magazine, podcasts, special events, a curriculum designed by the Pulitzer Center and more. Inspired by the 1619 Project, we’ve put together five lists of our publications related to the project on Black women’s activism, popular music, mass incarceration and lynching, sports and racism, and slavery, racism, and politics. As the year closes and a new decade beckons, we invite you to explore these lists alongside the 1619 Project and consider how we can use this important scholarship to move forward as a nation towards an antiracist future.

Sports and Racism Reading List

The Revolt of the Black Athlete

By Harry Edwards

This Fiftieth Anniversary edition of Edwards’s classic of activist scholarship offers a new introduction and afterword that revisits the revolts by athletes like Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos. At the same time, Edwards engages with the struggles of a present still rife with racism, double standards, and economic injustice. Again relating the rebellion of black athletes to a larger spirit of revolt among black citizens, Edwards moves his story forward to our era of protests, boycotts, and the dramatic politicization of athletes by Black Lives Matter.


Revisiting “The Revolt of the Black Athlete”: Harry Edwards and the Making of the New African-American Sport Studies

By Michael E. Lomax

Lomax examines the impact of Edwards’ political activism on research surrounding race and sport history.

“It’s Not Really My Country”: Lew Alcindor and the Revolt of the Black Athlete

By John Matthew Smith

As the most dominant and publicized college athlete of the time, Alcindor’s role legitimized the 1968 Olympic boycott movement. Smith revisits this oft-overlooked figure.

Globetrotting: African American Athletes and Cold War Politics

By Damion L. Thomas

Thomas follows the State Department’s efforts from 1945 to 1968 to showcase prosperous African American athletes including Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and the Harlem Globetrotters as the preeminent citizens of the African Diaspora rather than as victims of racial oppression. Exploring the geopolitical significance of racial integration in sports during the early days of the Cold War, this book looks at the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations’ attempts to utilize sport to overcome hostile international responses to the violent repression of the civil rights movement in the United States.

More Myth than History: American Culture and Representations of the Black Female’s Athletic Ability

Patricia Vertinsky and Gwendolyn Captain

Vertinsky and Captain trace the damaging myths of racial and gender “differences” through years of sport history.

“We Were Ladies, We Just Played Basketball Like Boys”: African American Womanhood and Competitive Basketball at Bennett College, 1928-1942

By Rita Liberti

Learn about how women fought for their femininity and their right to play competitive basketball both on and off the court.

I Fight for a Living: Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915

By Louis Moore

The black prizefighter labored in one of the few trades where an African American man could win renown: boxing. His prowess in the ring asserted an independence and powerful masculinity rare for black men in a white-dominated society, allowing him to be a man–and thus truly free. Louis Moore draws on the life stories of African American fighters active from 1880 to 1915 to explore working-class black manhood. As he details, boxers bought into American ideas about masculinity and free enterprise to prove their equality while using their bodies to become self-made men.


“The Color of My Writing”: Reflections on Studying the Interconnection among Race, Sport, and American Culture

By David K. Wiggins

Wiggins looks back at his experiences as a white academic studying African American athletes and how they have navigated the racial lines in their efforts to become full participants in sport.

“With All Deliberate Speed”: High School Sport, Race, and Brown v. Board of Education, by David K. Wiggins

Wiggins examines desegregation from the perspective of collegiate sports and the participation of African American athletes.

Benching Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of the Color Line in Southern College Sports, 1890-1980

By Charles H. Martin

Chronicling the uneven rise and slow decline of segregation in American college athletics, Martin shows how southern colleges imposed their policies of racial exclusion on surprisingly compliant northern teams and explains the social forces that eventually forced these southern schools to accept integrated competition. Martin emphasizes not just the racism prevalent in football and basketball in the South, but the effects of this discrimination for colleges and universities all over the country.


American Ideas about Race and Olympic Races from the 1890s to the 1950s: Shattering Myths or Reinforcing Scientific Racism?

By Mark Dyreson

When Jesse Owens won 4 Olympic Gold Medals in 1936, some hoped it signaled the end of American racism. Dyreson looks into the debates surrounding racial athletic “differences.”

White Men Playing a Black Man’s Game: Basketball’s “Great White Hopes” of the 1970s, by Adam J. Criblez

In an era characterized by the contest between African Americans empowered by the civil rights movement and whites threatened by a perceived rise in black cultural awareness, white basketball fans searched for the next fair-skinned hero after Larry Bird’s retirement.

Before March Madness: The Wars for the Soul of College Basketball

By Kurt Edward Kemper

Taking readers inside the competing factions, Kemper details why historically black colleges and regional schools came to embrace commercialization. As he shows, the NCAA’s strategy of co-opting its opponents gave each group just enough just enough to play along—while the victory of the big-time athletics model handed the organization the power to seize control of college sports.

Keep an eye out for the last list on popular music, and make sure to check out previous lists on Black women’s activism, slavery, racism, and politics, and mass incarceration and lynching. You can find all the lists here.