Bryan Wagner

Bryan Wagner

Associate Professor
416 Wheeler
Mon 3-5
bwagner@berkeley.edu


Professional Statement

Bryan Wagner is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He received a PhD in English from the University of Virginia before coming to Berkeley in 2002. His research focuses on African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath, and he has secondary interests in legal history and popular music. He has published Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2009) and The Tar Baby: A Global History (Princeton University Press, 2017). A book on The Wild Tchoupitoulas—a landmark album of processional call-and-response music arranged as electric funk—is forthcoming in the 33 1/3 Series from Bloomsbury. A critical edition, The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love, is forthcoming from LSU Press. Current research includes a collaborative cartographic digital archive, Louisiana Slave Conspiracies, and a multimedia project on the political culture of Reconstruction.



Specialties

Books

Title Fields
The Wild Tchoupitoulas The Wild Tchoupitoulas
The Wild Tchoupitoulas is a definitive expression of the modern New Orleans sound, drawing upon carnival traditions stretching back a century. Music chanted in the streets with tambourines and makeshift percussion is transformed throughout the album into dense electric funk accented by calypso and reggae. The album bridges not only genres but generations, linking the improvised flow from group lea....
Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery
W. C. Handy waking up to the blues on a train platform, Buddy Bolden eavesdropping on the drums at Congo Square, John Lomax taking his phonograph recorder into a southern penitentiary—some foundational myths of the black vernacular remain inescapable, even as they come under increasing pressure from skeptics. In Disturbing the Peace, Bryan Wagner revises the history of the black vernacular traditi....
The Tar Baby: A Global History The Tar Baby: A Global History
The Tar Baby offers a fresh analysis of a deceptively simple story about a wolf, a rabbit, and a doll made of tar and turpentine. Examining the story's variation and reception, Bryan Wagner argues that the tar baby is best understood not merely as a folktale but as a collective work in political philosophy. Circulating at the same time and in the same places as new ideas about property and politic....
The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love
This critical edition collects and introduces the most important versions of the Bras-Coupé story from the major phase of its development between the 1830s and the 1960s. One of the most notorious outlaws in the history of New Orleans, Bras-Coupé was a leader of the maroons who subsisted in the cypress swamps behind the city. Bras-Coupé’s historical career is represented in this edition with evide....

Recent English Courses Taught