Passed On: African American Mourning Stories.by Karla FC Holloway, Duke University Press, March 2002 $24.95, ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m 0-822-32860-7
After the violent death of her son, Duke University professor and author Karla FC Holloway found herself dealing with loss, grief and the finality fi·nal·i·ty
n. pl. fi·nal·i·ties
1. The condition or fact of being final.
2. A final, conclusive, or decisive act or utterance.
Noun 1. of death. Like many authors, Holloway found that researching and writing about the rituals of death became the catharsis catharsis
Purging or purification of emotions through art. The term is derived from the Greek katharsis (“purgation,” “cleansing”), a medical term used by Aristotle as a metaphor to describe the effects of dramatic tragedy on the spectator: by for her own pain.
In Passed On: African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. Mourning Stories, Holloway creates a "portrait of death and dying in twentieth-century African America." Holloway's endeavor feels random, and at times, vacillating among historical accounts of the emergence of African-American funeral home businesses, to a short study of violence in the African-American community, to the various "rituals of death" that have developed over the century.
Holloway suggests that the violence that has historically plagued African Americans has played a significant role in the perception of death in African-American culture. She writes, "The generational circumstance may change, but the violence done to black bodies has had a consistent history ... paired with the cultural expectations of an open casket, presented a particular challenge to the black mortician's skills."
Historical factoids, such as the origin of funeral wreaths and observations of such traditions as "the homecoming Homecoming
concerning Odysseus’s difficulties in getting home after war. [Gk. Myth.: Odyssey]
You Can’t Go Home Again
revisiting his home town, a writer is disillusioned by what he sees. [Am. Lit. "--the great trek Great Trek: see Trek, Great.
Emigration of some 12,000–14,000 Boers (see Afrikaners) from Cape Colony (South Africa) between 1835 and the early 1840s, in rebellion against British policies and in search of fresh pasturelands. South when a family member living in the region passes--are interesting, yet when offered alongside pictures, and very real accounts of brutality and violence, her observations seem more like random trivia than seamless information.
The documentation of African Americans and their death passages, as they were, are intriguing. However, Holloway's transgression TRANSGRESSION. The violation of a law. from the cultural and historical origins to stories focusing on the deaths of famous African Americans somehow lessens the scope of what seemed to be the true intention of her work, to present a thorough look at death through the cultural eye of African Americans.
--Michaelyn Elder is a writer and editor living in Harlem.