Google full text of our books:


Culture on the Margins:
The Black Spiritual and the Rise of American Cultural Interpretation
Jon Cruz

Paperback | 1999 | $49.95 | ($29.97) / £34.95 | (£20.97) | ISBN: 9780691004747
280 pp. | 6 x 9
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400823215 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents

Google full text of this book:

In Culture on the Margins, Jon Cruz recounts the "discovery" of black music by white elites in the nineteenth century, boldly revealing how the episode shaped modern approaches to studying racial and ethnic cultures. Slave owners had long heard black song making as meaningless "noise." Abolitionists began to attribute social and political meaning to the music, inspired, as many were, by Frederick Douglass's invitation to hear slaves' songs as testimonies to their inner, subjective worlds. This interpretive shift--which Cruz calls "ethnosympathy"--marks the beginning of a mainstream American interest in the country's cultural margins. In tracing the emergence of a new interpretive framework for black music, Cruz shows how the concept of "cultural authenticity" is constantly redefined by critics for a variety of purposes--from easing anxieties arising from contested social relations to furthering debates about modern ethics and egalitarianism.

In focusing on the spiritual aspect of black music, abolitionists, for example, pivoted toward an idealized religious singing subject at the expense of absorbing the more socially and politically elaborate issues presented in the slave narratives and other black writings. By the end of the century, Cruz maintains, modern social science also annexed much of this cultural turn. The result was a fully modern tension-ridden interest in culture on the racial margins of American society that has long had the effect of divorcing black culture from politics.


"Culture on the Margins brilliantly [unravels] . . . a crucial strand in the history of how the white investment in the black came to organize not only culture and politics in the United States but also social science. . . .This theoretically exigent and beautifully written account also turns on claims about the meaning and use of spirituals for the slaves. For the emergence and disappearance of the black subject is the hinge of the story Cruz has to tell."--Michael Rogin, American Journal of Sociology


"A splendid and important book that clearly establishes Jon Cruz as one of the most significant cultural sociologists of his generation. The scope, depth, and originality of his theoretical analysis contributes to the general project of understanding cultural production, cultural 'objects,' and cultural interpretation and appropriation. The richness of his deployment of historical materials--whether travel diaries, sermons, or early journal articles--brings his analytic framework alive. Because his book engages crucial debates in history, ethnic studies, and cultural studies as well as in sociology, it should have a wide readership among academics in many fields."--Elizabeth Long, Rice University

Table of Contents:

Introduction 3
ONE The Conundrum of Authenticity 19
TWO Sound Barriers and Sound Management 43
THREE From Objects to Subjects 67
FOUR From Authentic Subjects to Authentic Culture 99
FIVE From Testimonies to Artifacts 124
SIX Institutionalizing Ethnosympathy 164
SEVEN Conclusion 189

Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Intel Education Study eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Paperback $49.95 | ($29.97) ISBN: 9780691004747

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Paperback £34.95 | (£20.97) ISBN: 9780691004747

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 11/20/2015

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    fall saleHoliday Sale
    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    American Literature
    More Choices