Special Issue "Religions in African American Popular Culture"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 May 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Angela M. Nelson
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University, 228 Shatzel Hall, Bowling Green, OH 43402-0190, USA
Interests: African American popular culture; Christianity; Gospel Music; Television; Stage Plays

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue, “Religions in African American Popular Culture,” will focus on the intersection of religions and African American popular culture. African American popular culture is defined here as those aspects of culture largely created and produced by peoples of Africana descent in the United States of America that engender joy, pleasure, enjoyment, and amusement and that are expressed through artifacts (e.g., icons and personas) and practices (e.g., arts and rituals). The artifacts of African American popular culture are inclusive of but not limited to objects and material culture, heroes, celebrities, stars, and stereotypes. The practices of African American popular culture are inclusive of but not limited to music, literature, theater, radio, film, television, comic art, games, sports, worship services, parties, dinners and reunions, and festivals and holidays. The aim of this special issue is to explore the influence of religion on and within African American popular culture examining the gamut of religions including but not limited to Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity, Nation of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Five-Percent Nation, Holiness-Pentecostalism, and religious issues, imageries, representations and characterizations, and theological themes, theologies, and theodicies throughout African American popular culture. This special issue welcomes a variety of perspectives on and critical approaches to African American popular culture and religions. Contributions may address a broad range of topics, e.g., historical, contemporary, and/or emerging artifacts and practices of religions and African American popular culture. All relevant topics and subtopics will be considered for this issue. Please note that while not required, manuscripts of 15 to 30 double-spaced pages inclusive of front matter and back matter using Microsoft Word and Times New Roman 12 font are strongly preferred. Questions regarding potential essays can be directed to Dr. Angela Nelson ([email protected]).

Prof. Dr. Angela M. Nelson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • African Americans
  • Popular Culture
  • Religion
  • Religions

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue on “Religions in African-American Popular Culture”
Religions 2019, 10(9), 507; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090507 - 30 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This Special Issue on “Religions in African-American Popular Culture” puts the concepts of religion and popular culture in dialogue (Cobb 2005; Greeley 1988; Hinds et al [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Tyler Perry and the Rhetoric of Madea: Contrasting Performances of Perry’s Leading Lady as She Appears on Stage and Screen
Religions 2019, 10(7), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070430 - 16 Jul 2019
Abstract
In this essay, we will explore the variances in Madea’s character and presence on stage and on screen in both productions of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail: The Play and Madea Goes to Jail. Specifically, we examine the multiple and varying [...] Read more.
In this essay, we will explore the variances in Madea’s character and presence on stage and on screen in both productions of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail: The Play and Madea Goes to Jail. Specifically, we examine the multiple and varying ways in which the character of Madea performs for different audiences by examining how the roles of violence, religion and wisdom operate on stage and screen. Exploring the subtle—and at times, not-so-subtle—ways in which Madea’s performances differ from stage to screen, we suggest that Madea also performs as a text that Perry then uses to impart different messages to audiences of both stage and screen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
FIX IT BLACK JESUS: The Iconography of Christ in Good Times
Religions 2019, 10(7), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070410 - 28 Jun 2019
Abstract
Good Times is primarily remembered for the situation comedy that it became, rather than how the series began. As a part of what Means Coleman classifies as “The Lear Era: Social Relevancy and Ridiculed Black Subjectivity,” the series was the first sitcom in [...] Read more.
Good Times is primarily remembered for the situation comedy that it became, rather than how the series began. As a part of what Means Coleman classifies as “The Lear Era: Social Relevancy and Ridiculed Black Subjectivity,” the series was the first sitcom in TV history to feature a loving, working-class, Black nuclear family—the Evanses—with a focus on recounting their racial and socioeconomic challenges and gains. While the representational treatment of the Evanses as a whole and full family by network television (CBS) was groundbreaking, Good Times, perhaps, still reinforced implicit schemas regarding Blackness as the Evanses were poor and lived in Chicago’s rough-and-tumble Cabrini Green Housing Projects. Further, as the series progressed, narrative attention focused on the character J.J., a ‘Jim Crow’ stereotype (i.e., eye-bulging, wide-smiling, hustler) whose emergence as the centerpiece of the series eventually prompted co-star, John Amos, to leave the once stereotype-busting show out of protest. Although Good Times ultimately fell into the stereotype trap, the first two seasons of the series worked effectively in representing Blackness as complex and worthy. This article focuses on “Thank You Black Jesus”, a season-one episode that centers on J.J.’s painting of Black Jesus, an artistic interpretation that is in line with the Bible’s description of Jesus. “Thank You Black Jesus” begs several important questions surrounding religious and secular symbols, the interpellation and hailing of Blackness, and faith or suspending one’s disbelief. In this article, we conduct a critical, cultural analysis to explore the meanings that are associated with symbols, Blackness, and faith. We also consider the staying power of the “Black Jesus” episode in contemporary popular culture, as witnessed in the form of memes, intertextual references to the episode in other media texts, and as elucidated by continued debates surrounding the race of Jesus and the ways to pursue an iconography of inclusiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)
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Open AccessArticle
Continuing Conjure: African-Based Spiritual Traditions in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing
Religions 2019, 10(7), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070403 - 26 Jun 2019
Abstract
In 2016 and 2017, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing both won the National Book Award for fiction, the first time that two African-American writers have won the award in consecutive years. This article argues that both novels [...] Read more.
In 2016 and 2017, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing both won the National Book Award for fiction, the first time that two African-American writers have won the award in consecutive years. This article argues that both novels invoke African-based spirituality in order to create literary sites of resistance both within the narrative of the respective novels, but also within American culture at large. By drawing on a tradition of authors using African-based spiritual practices, particularly Voodoo, hoodoo, conjure and rootwork, Whitehead and Ward enter and engage in a tradition of African American protest literature based on African spiritual traditions, and use these traditions variously, both as a tie to an originary African identity, but also as protection and a locus of resistance to an oppressive society. That the characters within the novels engage in African spiritual traditions as a means of locating a sense of “home” within an oppressive white world, despite the novels being set centuries apart, shows that these traditions provide a possibility for empowerment and protest and can act as a means for contemporary readers to address their own political and social concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Looking for Black Religions in 20th Century Comics, 1931–1993
Religions 2019, 10(6), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060400 - 25 Jun 2019
Abstract
Relationships between religion and comics are generally unexplored in the academic literature. This article provides a brief history of Black religions in comic books, cartoons, animation, and newspaper strips, looking at African American Christianity, Islam, Africana (African diaspora) religions, and folk traditions such [...] Read more.
Relationships between religion and comics are generally unexplored in the academic literature. This article provides a brief history of Black religions in comic books, cartoons, animation, and newspaper strips, looking at African American Christianity, Islam, Africana (African diaspora) religions, and folk traditions such as Hoodoo and Conjure in the 20th century. Even though the treatment of Black religions in the comics was informed by stereotypical depictions of race and religion in United States (US) popular culture, African American comics creators contested these by offering alternatives in their treatment of Black religion themes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)
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