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Seems Like Murder Here

Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition

Winner of the 2004 C. Hugh Holman Award from the Society for the Study of Southern Literature.

Seems Like Murder Here offers a revealing new account of the blues tradition. Far from mere laments about lost loves and hard times, the blues emerge in this provocative study as vital responses to spectacle lynchings and the violent realities of African American life in the Jim Crow South. With brilliant interpretations of both classic songs and literary works, from the autobiographies of W. C. Handy, David Honeyboy Edwards, and B. B. King to the poetry of Langston Hughes and the novels of Zora Neale Hurston, Seems Like Murder Here will transform our understanding of the blues and its enduring power.

Read an interview with the author.

360 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Black Studies

Culture Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Music: General Music

Table of Contents

1. "I’m Tore Down"
Lynching and the Birth of a Blues Tradition
2. "Make My Getaway"
Southern Violence and Blues Entrepreneurship in W. C. Handy’s Father of the Blues
3. Dis(Re)memberment Blues
Narratives of Abjection and Redress
4. "Shoot Myself a Cop"
Mamie Smith’s "Crazy Blues" as Social Text
5. Guns, Knives, and Buckets of Blood
The Predicament of Blues Culture
6. "The Blade Already Crying in My Flesh"
Zora Neale Hurston’s Blues Narratives


Society for the Study of Southern Literature: C. Hugh Holman Award

Popular Culture Assoc./American Culture Assoc.: John G. Cawelti Book Award
Honorable Mention

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