Kinitra D. Brooks' and Kameelah L. Martin's New Book, The Lemonade Reader, Explores Beyoncé’s Visual AlbumHistorians in the News
tags: music, book review, Beyonce, The Lemonade Reader, Lemonade
J.T. Roane is assistant professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He is also part of the University’s urban futures initiative. Roane is broadly concerned about matters of geography, sexuality, and religion in relation to Black communities. He is at work on a manuscript, Dark Agoras: Insurgent Black Social Life and the Politics of Place in Philadelphia, which historicizes multiple modes of insurgent spatial assemblage Black communities articulated in Philadelphia in the second half of the twentieth century. Follow him on Twitter @JTRoane.
The Lemonade Reader is an interdisciplinary collection that explores the nuances of Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album, Lemonade. The essays and editorials present fresh, cutting-edge scholarship fueled by contemporary thoughts on film, material culture, religion, and Black feminism.
Envisioned as an educational tool to support and guide discussions of the visual album at postgraduate and undergraduate levels, The Lemonade Reader critiques Lemonade’s multiple Afrodiasporic influences, its visual aesthetics, its narrative arc of grief and healing, and its ethnomusicological reach. The essays, written by both scholars and popular bloggers, reflect a broad yet uniquely specific Black feminist investigation into constructions of race, gender, spirituality, and southern identity.
The Lemonade Reader gathers a newer generation of Black feminist scholars to engage in intellectual discourse and confront the emotional labor around the Lemonade phenomena. It is the premiere source for examining Lemonade, a text that will continue to have a lasting impact on Black women’s studies and popular culture.
J.T. Roane: Books have creation stories. Please share with us the creation story of your book—those experiences, those factors, those revelations that caused you to produce this unique book.
Kinitra D. Brooks & Kameelah L. Martin: The Lemonade Reader evolved from a spirited Facebook Messenger discussion in the days following the release of Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade (2016). That social media discussion, which included some of our contributors like Janell Hobson, turned into a video chat session between the two of us— in our head scarfs and pajamas! We both have connections to New Orleans, and we were particularly struck by the imagery and trope of Louisiana as ancestral home space. Kinitra developed ideas around the bayou as liminal space; Kameelah coined the phrase “Creole Courtesan” to describe Beyoncé’s French lingerie-clad, parlor room aesthetic in the film. We were so inspired by the multilayered narrative of Spirit (conjure) work imbued in the visual album and the incessant critical debate happening, that we knew this was a huge cultural moment and wanted to participate in a tangible way. We co-wrote and submitted an essay for a special issue on Beyoncé organized by a leading academic journal. We focused on the simultaneity of the blues and conjure narratives we saw playing out in the visual album.
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