Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman


Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman

Black History and Poetics in Performance

Gale P. Jackson

246 pages
1 photograph, 4 illustrations, index


April 2020


$45.00 Add to Cart

May 2024


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2020


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2020


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In a gathering of griot traditions fusing storytelling, cultural history, and social and literary criticism, Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman “re-members” and represents how women of the African diaspora have drawn on ancient traditions to record memory, history, and experience in performance. 

These women’s songs and dances provide us with a wealth of polyphonic text that records their reflections on identity, imagination, and agency, providing a collective performed autobiography that complements the small body of pre-twentieth-century African and African American women’s writing.

Gale P. Jackson engages with a range of vibrant traditions to provide windows into multiple discourses as well as “new” and old paradigms for locating the history, philosophy, pedagogy, and theory embedded in a lineage of African diaspora performance and to articulate and address the postcolonial fragmentation of humanist thinking. In lyrically interdisciplinary movement, across herstories, geographies, and genres, cultural continuities, improvisation, and transformative action, Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman offers a fresh perspective on familiar material and an expansion of our sources, reading, and vision of African diaspora, African American, and American literatures.

Author Bio

Gale P. Jackson is a poet, writer, and Africanist scholar. She is a professor of interdisciplinary arts at Goddard College and the author of MeDea and We Stand Our Ground: Three Women, Their Vision, Their Poems.


"Both relatable and scholarly, this is a fascinating and original study."—T. L. Stowell, Choice

“The particular significance of this rich scholarship is the way it foregrounds and uplifts music, movement, dance, and cultural practice in the long, complex, and astonishing story of struggle, resilience, imagination, survival, and innovation among African diasporic people. The movement detailed and the role of story, percussion, and sound offer histories/herstories of people continuously facing unspeakable brutalities and invasions of the body and soul, who will always continue to live their ancestries, their cultures, and the maps of their souls in folklore and in the physical world. This is rich, essential work.”—Kathy Engel, poet and associate arts professor, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

“It is not only the breadth and range of the scholars referenced in this book that has me awestruck but the amount of material covered that is impressive. It yields a fresh perspective on familiar material and a creative perspective in linking genres together in time periods and places never before charted. This is a brilliant and original work.”—Kariamu Welsh, director of the Institute for African Dance Research and Performance

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Past and Prologue as Prelude: Eurydice’s Black Flight
1. The Way We Do: An Introductory Mapping
2. Juba Danced: Following a Story in Motion
3. The Ancestors and the Lullaby: Passing It On
4. Put Your Hands on Your Hips: Rites of Passage in Performance
5. Rosy, Possum, Morning Star: Work Songs and the Blues
Coda: Circling Back Around

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