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Frankie and Johnny


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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Frankie and Johnny Take Center Stage: African American Folk Culture in 1930s America
  • Chapter 2. Lead Belly's Ninth Symphony: Huddie Ledbetter and the Changing Contours of American Folk Music
  • Chapter 3. Pistol Packin' Mama: Imperiled Masculinity in Thomas Hart Benton's A Social History of the State of Missouri
  • Chapter 4. Whiteface Marionettes: John Huston's Comic Melodrama
  • Chapter 5. The Finest Woman Ever to Walk the Streets: Mae West's Outlaw Exploits in She Done Him Wrong
  • Chapter 6. The Lynching of Johnny: Sterling Brown's Social Realist Critique
  • Epilogue. African American Women's Voices and the Tightrope of Respectability
  • Notes
  • Index

Promotional Information

"I am extremely impressed by this book. I think it will be a valuable addition to African American studies, American studies, cultural studies, and popular culture studies." -- James Smethurst, University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of The African American Roots of Modernism: From Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance "A remarkable book. I was floored by the stories and connections that Morgan unearthed by following 'Frankie and Johnny' from its ambiguous origins to its use by everyone from Thomas Hart Benton to Ethel Waters. I was further impressed by the skill and sophistication with which Morgan made larger arguments about the complexity and flexibility of popular culture within larger political and social dynamics. This is important work that should be embraced by a variety of readers." -- Charles L. Hughes, The Memphis Center at Rhodes College, author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South

About the Author

Stacy I. Morgan is an associate professor of American studies at the University of Alabama. He is the author of Rethinking Social Realism: African American Art and Literature, 1930-1953.


Morgan's brilliant examination of race and gender in creative appropriations of the 'Frankie and Johnny' ballad furthers the discourse on how African American folk culture contributed to the unique characteristics of American modernism during the 1930s. * Journal of Southern History *
A well-researched analysis of the complex intersections between African American culture and folklore and mainstream popular music and film culture of the 1930s. * Journal of American Folklore *
[A] masterpiece...Frankie and Johnny showcases the talents of performers, entertainers, composers, and artists while simultaneously telegraphing the tormented rawness of unrequited fidelity...Morgan's tireless, copious research yields rich rewards, allowing the reader an emotionally vicarious experience of a 'somebody done somebody wrong' theme. * Journal of African American History *

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