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Austin, Texas 78746
Gena Caponi-Tabery writes and teaches about the expressive culture of ordinary people—music, dance, sports, language, and clothing. She is the editor of Signifyin(g), Sanctifyin’, and Slam Dunking: A Reader in African American Expressive Culture (1999) and author of Jump for Joy: Jazz, Basketball, and Black Culture in 1930s America (2008). She was formerly an associate professor of American studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Slam dunking is one of basketball’s most powerful moves, but similar moments of virtuosity occur in jazz, gospel, and blues. Why do we call the slam dunker a “hot dog” and the jazz musician a “genius”? The slam dunk in sports, music, and dance can elevate audiences as well as players, as we see in film and video clips from American music, dance, and sports.
Fast-break basketball, rhythm and blues, and black dance have dominated American popular culture since World War II, and they all began in the African American dance halls of the late 1930s. Through film clips and music, this presentation explains how jump blues, the jump shot, and the jumping jitterbug came to be and then came to define American popular culture.