Celebrate Black History Month with the University of Michigan Press!

By: Neo Kanamori | Date: February 1, 2024 | Tags: Black History Month
Text Black History Month and UMP with colorful background pattern

This year marks 98 years since the efforts of historian Carter G. Woodson laid the groundwork for Black History Month to become an officially recognized month in the United States. In honor of this occasion, we would like to share a few titles from the University of Michigan Press that bring awareness to Black history, culture, identities and contributions in the United States and the world, as well as the continuation of racial prejudices and systemic inequality that challenge us in the present day.

Below is a selection of some of our new and upcoming titles. We invite you to explore our African American Studies and African Studies lists for more titles to read this month!

On Music Theory, and Making Music More Welcoming for Everyone By Philip Ewell

Since its inception in the mid-twentieth century, American music theory has been framed and taught almost exclusively by white men. As a result, whiteness and maleness are woven into the fabric of the field, and BIPOC music theorists face enormous hurdles due to their racial identities. In On Music Theory, Philip Ewell brings together autobiography, music theory and history, and theory and history of race in the United States to offer a black perspective on the state of music theory and to confront the field’s white supremacist roots. Taking an explicitly antiracist approach to music theory, with this book Ewell begins to create a space in which those who have been marginalized in music theory can thrive.

Reimagining the Educated Citizen: Creole Pedagogies in the Transatlantic World, 1685-1896 By Petra Munro Hendry

The nineteenth century is commonly understood as the age of nationalism and nation formation in which the Anglo-Protestant Common School movement takes center stage in the production of the American democratic citizen. Ironically, the argument for public, Common Schools privileged whiteness instead of equality. Reimagining the Educated Citizen suggests that an alternative vision of the relationship between education and citizenship emerged from a larger transatlantic history. Given shape by the movement of people, ideas, commodities, and practices across the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Valley, this radical egalitarian vision emerged at the crossroads of the Atlantic-colonial and antebellum Louisiana.

i used to love to dream By A.D. Carson

ACLS Open Access Book Prize finalist
2021 PROSE Awards Subject Category Winner

i used to love to dream is a mixtap/e/ssay that performs hip-hop scholarship using sampled and live instrumentation; repurposed music, film, and news clips; and original rap lyrics. As a genre, the mixtap/e/ssay brings together the mixtape—a self-produced or independently released album issued free of charge to gain publicity—and the personal and scholarly essays. Using the local to ask questions about the global, i used to love to dream highlights outlooks on Black life generally, and Black manhood in particular, in the United States. You can listen to Carson's work on Fulcrum, for free! Find it at: https://www.fulcrum.org/concern/monographs/m900nw52n

The Revolution Will Be Improvised: The Intimacy of Cultural Activism By Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder

In the 1960s, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists engaged with people of color working in poor communities to experiment with creative approaches to liberation through theater, media, storytelling, and craftmaking. With a dearth of resources and an abundance of urgency, SNCC activists improvised new methods of engaging with communities that created possibilities for unexpected encounters through programs such as The Free Southern Theater, El Teatro Campesino, and the Poor People’s Corporation. Reading the output of these programs, The Revolution Will Be Improvised argues that intimacy-making became an extension of participatory democracy. In doing so, the author supplants the success-failure binary for understanding social movements, focusing instead on how care work aligns with creative production.

Racing the Great White Way: Black Performance, Eugene O’Neill, and the Transformation of Broadway By Katie N. Johnson

The early drama of Eugene O’Neill, with its emphasis on racial themes and conflicts, opened up extraordinary opportunities for Black performers to challenge racist structures in modern theater and cinema. By adapting O’Neill’s dramatic writing—changing scripts to omit offensive epithets, inserting African American music and dance, or including citations of Black internationalism—theater artists of color have used O’Neill’s texts to raze barriers in American and transatlantic theater.

Challenging the widely accepted idea that Broadway was the white-hot creative engine of U.S. theater during the early 20th century, Racing the Great White Way reveals a far more complex system of exchanges between the Broadway establishment and a vibrant Black theater scene in New York and beyond to chart a new history of American and transnational theater.

Continuous Pasts: Frictions of Memory in Postcolonial Africa By Sakiru Adebayo

In Continuous Pasts, author Sakiru Adebayo claims that the post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa depicts the intricate ways in which the past is etched on bodies and topographies, resonant in silences and memorials, and continuous even in experiences as well as structures of migration. Continuous Pasts shows how post-conflict fictions of memory in Africa recalibrate discourses of futurity, solidarity, responsibility, justice, survival, and reconciliation. It also contends that post-conflict fictions of memory in Africa provide the tools for imagining and theorizing a collective African memory. Each text analyzed in the book provides, in very interesting ways, an imaginative possibility and template for how post-independence African countries can ‘remember together’ using what the author describes as an African transnational memory framework.

The Imaginative Vision of Abdilatif Abdalla’s Voice of AgonyPoems Translated by Ken Walibora Waliaula, Edited by Annmarie Drury

The extraordinary Swahili poetry collection Sauti ya Dhiki (Voice of Agony) is a collection of prison poems composed by Abdilatif Abdalla between 1969 and 1972. He originally wrote the poems while incarcerated by the government of Jomo Kenyatta for sedition as a result of his political activism and smuggled them out of prison on scraps of paper. Imaginative Vision is the first complete literary translation into English—translated by the late Kenyan novelist and scholar Ken Walibora Waliaula and edited by Annmarie Drury—of one of the most esteemed and influential collections of Swahili poetry of the twentieth century. Under the editorship of scholar, translator, and poet Annmarie Drury, contributors bring insights from their diverse backgrounds to present contextualizing material that illuminates the poems at the heart of this book.

Between Sahara and Sea: Africa in the Roman Empire By David J. Mattingly

Between Sahara and Sea challenges orthodox views of the story of Africa under Roman domination. It presents a new framework for understanding this and other territories incorporated in the Roman Empire. Based on decades of research in North Africa, David Mattingly’s book is a cleverly constructed and innovative account of the history and archaeology of ancient North Africa (roughly equivalent to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) from the first century BCE to the third century CE. He charts a new path toward a bottom-up understanding of North African archaeology, exploring in turn the differing material cultures and experiences of the Roman communities of the military and the urban and rural areas. Regional and societal differences emerge as significant and of long duration in the fascinating story of one of the most important sectors of the Roman Empire.

Protest Arts, Gender, and Social Change: Fiction, Popular Songs, and the Media in Hausa Society across Borders By Ousseina D. Alidou

Protest Arts, Gender, and Social Change examines how a new generation of novelists, popular songwriters, and musical performers in contemporary Hausa society are using their creative works to effect social change. This book empathizes with the reality of the forms of oppression, social isolation, and marginalization that vulnerable and underprivileged communities in contemporary Hausa society in Northern Nigeria and the Niger Republic have been experiencing from the mid-1980s to the present. It also highlights the ways in which song performances produce an intertextual dialogue between their lyrics and visual dramatic narratives to raise awareness against social ills, including gender-based violence and social inequalities exposed by biomedical health pandemics such as HIV and COVID-19. In these creative Hausa narratives, the oppressed and marginalized have agency in articulating their own experiences.


This post was written by Neo Kanamori, a senior student at the University of Michigan. He is currently a History major and is also minoring in Linguistics.