When Your Way Gets Dark: A Rhetoric of the Blues

SKU: 1-932559-38-8

Jeffrey Carroll

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1-932559-38-8 ($27.00, paperback); © 2005 by Parlor Press; 204 pages, with index and bibliography

Other Formats Available
1-932559-39-6 (Cloth; $54.00) 1-932559-40-X (Adobe eBook on CD; $12.00)

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In When Your Way Gets Dark: A Rhetoric of the Blues, Jeffrey Carroll presents a cluster of rhetorical and literary theories that illuminate the blues’ place in our social, political, and cultural traditions. Drawing from his 35 years of blues encounters, Carroll also analyzes performers and nine historic blues performances—including the blues of Charlie Patton, Skip James, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and others—as well as their own accounts of performances, to understand, paraphrasing Dylan Thomas, the force through which the blue fuse drives the music. When Your Way Gets Dark uncovers the rhetorical positions of the most significant writing and writers on the blues—Samuel Charters, Paul Oliver, Robert Palmer, William Ferris, David Evans, LeRoi Jones, Ralph Ellison, Larry Neal, Albert Murray—and seeks to find rhetorics there that may resolve or exacerbate the question of race, the blues, and audience. In When Your Way Gets Dark, Carroll also shows how teachers and students can—by reinventing its contexts, sound, and effects—recover the rhetorical power of the blues.

What people are saying about When Your Way Gets Dark: A Rhetoric of the Blues . . .

When Your Way Gets Dark presents a sustained look at how African-American art and performance has extended and shaped the American aesthetic and cultural landscape. Carroll shows that the blues are a legitimate art-form for sustained study, academic and otherwise; in so doing, he stretches our conceptions of what constitutes a text . . . and how we can explore text as performance in terms of theory, interpretation, and pedagogy—without reducing the blues to being only a literary object. . . . Carroll writes about the blues with grace, style, and insight. — Thomas Rickert, Purdue University

About the Author

Jeffrey Carroll is Professor of English and Director of the Graduate Program in English at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where he teaches courses on the blues, rhetoric and composition, and the American novel. He is the author of two textbooks, Dialogs: Reading and Writing in the Disciplines and The Active Reader (with Anne Ruggles Gere), as well as a novel, Climbing to the Sun.


Introduction: Working (into) the Blues

1 Writing (on) the Blues
2 Reading (for) the Blues
3 Cooking (with) the Blues

Nine Performances of the Blues

Charlie Patton
Skip James
Memphis Minnie
Little Walter
Jimi Hendrix
J.B. Lenoir
B.B. King
Muddy Waters
Eric Clapton

4 Teaching (by) the Blues

Works Cited

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