Patricia A. Turner is Professor of African-American and African Studies at the University of California at Davis and the author of Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture (1994).
The stories included in Dog Ghosts are as varied as the Texas landscape, as full of contrasts as Texas weather. Among them are tales that have their roots deeply imbedded in African, Irish, and Welsh mythology; others have parallels in pre-Columbian Mexican tradition, and a few have versions that can be traced back to Chaucer's England. All make delightful reading. The title Dog Ghosts is drawn from the unique stories of dog spirits which Dr. Brewer collected in the Red River bottoms and elsewhere in Texas.
The Word on the Brazos is a delightful collection of "preacher tales" from the Brazos River bottom in Texas. J. Mason Brewer worked side by side with field hands in the Brazos bottoms; he lived in their homes, worshipped in their churches, and shared the moments of relaxation in which laughter held full sway.
Many of the tales these people told were related to religion—both "good religion" and "bad religion." Some of them concerned preachers and their families, while others were stories told in pulpits. Mr. Brewer has set all of these stories down in authentic yet easily readable dialect. They will delight all who are interested in the historic culture of rural African-American Texans, as well as those who simply enjoy fine humorous stories skillfully told.
The folksongs, speech, beliefs, customs, and tales of the American Negro are discussed in this anthology, originally published in 1967, of thirty-five articles, letters, and reviews from nineteenth-century periodicals. Published between 1838 and 1900 and written by authors who range from ardent abolitionist to dedicated slaveholder, these articles reflect the authors’ knowledge of, and attitudes toward, the Negro and his folklore. From the vast body of material that appeared on this subject during the nineteenth century, editor Bruce Jackson has culled fresh articles that are basic folklore and represent a wide range of material and attitudes. In addition to his introduction to the volume, Jackson has prefaced each article with a commentary. He has also supplied a supplemental bibliography on Negro folklore.
If serious collecting of Negro folklore had begun by the middle of the nineteenth century, so had exploitation of its various aspects, particularly Negro songs. By 1850 minstrelsy was a big business. Although Jackson has considered minstrelsy outside the scope of this collection, he has included several discussions of it to suggest some aspects of its peculiar relation to the traditional. The articles in the anthology—some by such well-known figures as Joel Chandler Harris, George Washington Cable, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Mason Brown, and Antonin Dvorak—make fascinating reading for an observer of the American scene. This additional insight into the habits of thought and behavior of a culture in transition—folklore recorded in its own context—cannot but afford the thinking reader further understanding of the turbulent race problems of later times and today.
Written expressly for high school students and general readers, the volume classifies and defines Chicano folklore and provides background information on the historical contexts in which Chicanos have thrived. It also provides numerous examples and texts from various folklore genres and discusses the importance of Chicano folklore to literature and popular culture. In addition, it reviews scholarship and critical approaches and closes with a bibliography and glossary. This book will help students appreciate America's cultural diversity as they learn about the fascinating traditions of this important ethnic group.