Mood Indigo by Jeanne Heuving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Downloads (Pure)


The essay discusses Jeanne Heuving's volume Mood Indigo. It begins with the genesis of Duke Ellington's musical composition 'Mood Indigo' . It proceeds through Heuving's engagement with the history of indigo production, the trade routes that brought it from India and Africa to Europe and America, and the process of dyeing and its imbrication in the history of slavery. The essay explores Heuving's textual practices and some of the work's intertextual relations - in particular its dialogue with Fred Moten and Nathaniel Mackey. It concludes by exploring Heuving's textual attention to West African textiles and African American quilting. As Heuving's work reveals, the history of indigo is an under-explored African influence on North American culture, and a history that gives Ellington's 'Mood Indigo a distinct resonance. The essay concludes by showing how Heuving's citation of jazz lyrics is not only a celebration of Black culture, but also attends to and promotes a contemporary counter-narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalTears in the Fence
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2021


  • Jeanne Heuving
  • Mood Indigo
  • Duke Ellington
  • prose poem
  • indigo production
  • jazz
  • cloth
  • Lacan, Jacques
  • the signifying cut
  • Fred Moten
  • technology transfer
  • quilting
  • Gee's Bend quilters
  • Nathaniel Mackey
  • syncopation

Cite this