Reconsidering Roots

Race, Politics, and Memory

Title Details

Pages: 234

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 04/15/2017

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5082-0

List Price: $27.95

Hardcover

Pub Date: 04/15/2017

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5083-7

List Price: $79.95

eBook

Pub Date: 04/15/2017

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5084-4

List Price: $27.95

Reconsidering Roots

Race, Politics, and Memory

A new look at the wildly popular, paradigm-shifting book and television miniseries

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Contributors

This wide-ranging interdisciplinary collection-the first of its kind-invites us to recon­sider the politics and scope of the Roots phenomenon of the 1970s. Alex Haley's 1976 book was a publishing sensation, selling over a million copies in its first year and winning a National Book Award and a special Pulitzer Prize. The 1977 television adaptation was more than a blockbuster miniseries-it was a galvanizing national event, drawing a record-shattering viewership, earning thirty-eight Emmy nominations, and changing overnight the discourse on race, civil rights, and slavery.

These essays-from emerging and established scholars in history, sociology, film, and media studies-interrogate Roots, assessing the ways that the book and its dramatization recast representations of slavery, labor, and the black family; reflected on the promise of freedom and civil rights; and engaged discourses of race, gender, violence, and power in the United States and abroad. Taken together, the essays ask us to reconsider the limitations and possibilities of this work, which, although dogged by controversy, must be understood as one of the most extraordinary media events of the late twentieth century, a cultural touchstone of enduring significance.

Contributors: Norvella P. Carter, Warren Chalklen, Elise Chatelain, Robert K. Chester, Clare Corbould, C. Richard King, David J. Leonard, Delia Mellis, Francesca Morgan, Tyler D. Parry, Martin Stollery, Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang, Bhekuyise Zungu

In ten chapters, the essayists in Reconsidering Roots posit that, although Roots has been a topic of debate since its release, few would argue against its impact on readers and viewers around the world, and how they think about slavery, reconstruction, African civilization, and the modern civil right movement. Editors Erica L. Ball and Kellie Carter Jackson have compiled an honest and intriguing look at Roots and its creator, Alex Haley. . . . The 1977 miniseries Roots was adapted for a contemporary audience in 2016, suggesting that the narrative continues to be cherished. This collection-which is a thorough examination of Roots-helps to explain why.

—Kaavonia Hinton, ForeWord Reviews

A thoughtful and critical examination of Roots and its legacies. Whether challenging the compromises made to satisfy the white gaze or exploring how Roots was linked to the growing trend of social history, the work reveals that Roots was a cultural touchstone in a post-Civil Rights era that demanded recognition of storytelling from African American perspectives. . . . The editors and authors demonstrate that Roots is a valuable visual and textual depiction of slavery; one that deserves the type of critical assessment set forth in this collection.

—Noël K. Wolfe, Civil War History

Erica L. Ball

Norvella Carter

Warren Chalklen

Elise Chatelain

Robert K. Chester

Clare Corbould

Henry Gates

Kellie Carter Jackson

C. King

David J. Leonard

Delia Mellis

Francesca Morgan

Tyler D. Parry

Martin Stollery

Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang

Bhekuyise Zungu

About the Author/Editor

Erica L. Ball (Editor)
ERICA L. BALL is a professor of American studies at Occidental College. She is author of To Live an Antislavery Life: Personal Politics and the Antebellum Black Middle Class (Georgia).

Kellie Carter Jackson (Editor)
KELLIE CARTER JACKSON is an assistant professor of history at Hunter College, CUNY, and the author of Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence.