Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910 / Edition 1

Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910 / Edition 1

by Daphne A. Brooks
     
 

ISBN-10: 0822337223

ISBN-13: 9780822337225

Pub. Date: 07/18/2006

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

In Bodies in Dissent Daphne A. Brooks argues that from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, black transatlantic activists, actors, singers, and other entertainers frequently transformed the alienating conditions of social and political marginalization into modes of self-actualization through performance. Brooks considers the work of African

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Overview

In Bodies in Dissent Daphne A. Brooks argues that from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, black transatlantic activists, actors, singers, and other entertainers frequently transformed the alienating conditions of social and political marginalization into modes of self-actualization through performance. Brooks considers the work of African American, Anglo, and racially ambiguous performers in a range of popular entertainment, including racial melodrama, spectacular theatre, moving panorama exhibitions, Pan-Africanist musicals, Victorian magic shows, religious and secular song, spiritualism, and dance. She describes how these entertainers experimented with different ways of presenting their bodies in public—through dress, movement, and theatrical technologies—to defamiliarize the spectacle of “blackness” in the transatlantic imaginary.

Brooks pieces together reviews, letters, playbills, fiction, and biography in order to reconstruct not only the contexts of African American performance but also the reception of the stagings of “bodily insurgency” which she examines. Throughout the book, she juxtaposes unlikely texts and entertainers in order to illuminate the complicated transatlantic cultural landscape in which black performers intervened. She places Adah Isaacs Menken, a star of spectacular theatre, next to Sojourner Truth, showing how both used similar strategies of physical gesture to complicate one-dimensional notions of race and gender. She also considers Henry Box Brown’s public re-enactments of his escape from slavery, the Pan-Africanist discourse of Bert Williams’s and George Walker’s musical In Dahomey (1902–04), and the relationship between gender politics, performance, and New Negro activism in the fiction of the novelist and playwright Pauline Hopkins and the postbellum stage work of the cakewalk dancer and choreographer Aida Overton Walker. Highlighting the integral connections between performance and the construction of racial identities, Brooks provides a nuanced understanding of the vitality, complexity, and influence of black performance in the United States and throughout the black Atlantic.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822337225
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
07/18/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
488
Sales rank:
1,425,650
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

1. Our Bodies, Our/Selves 14

Racial Phantasmagoria and Cultural Struggle

2. The Escape Artist 66

Henry Box Brown, Black Abolitionist Performance, and Moving Panoramas of Slavery

3. “The Deeds Done in My Body” 131

Performance, Black(ened) Women, and Adah Isaacs Menken in the Racial Imaginary

4. Alien/Nation 207

Re-Imagining the Black Body (Politic) in Williams and Walker’s In Dahomey

5. Divas and Diasporic Consciousness 281

Song, Dance, and New Negro Womanhood in the Veil

Epilogue 343

Theatre, Black Women, and Change

Notes 349

Bibliography 417

Index 455

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