Mark Anthony Neal
Mark Anthony Neal is an American author and academic. He is Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University, where he won the 2010 Robert B. Cox Award for Teaching. Neal has written and lectured extensively on black popular culture, black masculinity, sexism and homophobia in Black communities, and the history of popular music.
Neal is the founder and managing editor of the blog NewBlackMan. He hosts the weekly webcast Left of Black in collaboration with the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University. A frequent commentator for NPR, Neal contributes to several on-line media outlets, including Huff Post Black Voices and SeeingBlack.com.
Neal is the author of four books: What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1998), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002), Songs in the Keys of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation (2003) and New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity (2005). Neal is also the co-editor (with Murray Forman) of That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 2nd edition (2011). Neal’s next book Looking for Leroy: (Il)Legible Black Masculinities was published in 2013 by New York University Press.
Using the term post-soul to "describe the political, social, and cultural experiences of the African-American community since the end of the civil rights and Black Power movements,", Neal's Soul Babies explores the extent to which post-modernity can be applied to the African-American experience. Characterizing the black traditions of the civil rights era as modern, Neal argues that postmodern or post-soul expressions of blackness both borrow from black modern traditions and render these traditions dated and obsolete in the process of articulating their own identity. Much of this articulation is based on what Neal calls "a sense of familiarity," or the exploitation of familiar tropes of blackness in post-soul expressions that are meant to heighten the sense of fracture and difference of the contemporary narratives built around them. OutKast's song Rosa Parks exemplifies the aesthetic as the duo "bastardized" black history and culture, to create and alternative meaning.
Neal identifies as a feminist. His 2005 memoir New Black Man includes a letter to his feminist mentor, Masani Alexis DeVeaux. In the book he uses the term "NewBlackMan" to describe men who define their black manhood in gender-progressive terms.
- Neal, Mark Anthony. Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic. New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 3.
- Neal, Soul Babies, p. 15.
- Neal, Soul Babies, p. 22.
- Lemons, Gary L. (2009). Womanist Forefathers: Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois. Albany: SUNY Press - State University of New York Press. pp. 146, 190. ISBN 1-4384-2756-5.