El Coyote Gordo (supergee) wrote,
El Coyote Gordo
supergee

Deep Down in the Grave

Before there was rap, there were toasts, obscene recitations improvised by African-Americans. (Two famous ones are “The Signifyin’ Monkey” and “Shine on the Titanic.”) Folklorist Roger D. Abrahams, who died recently, collected them in a delightful book called Deep Down in the Jungle. I learned from his obit that the dissertation on which he based the book led the University of Pennsylvania to create a Department of Folklore because “We cannot have a dissertation with such foul language in the English department. If you want to approve it, go and have your own department.”
Tags: memorial
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