Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture / Edition 1

Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture / Edition 1

by Susan Gubar
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195134184

ISBN-13: 9780195134186

Pub. Date: 03/28/2000

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

When the actor Ted Danson appeared in blackface at a 1993 Friars Club roast, he ignited a firestorm of protest that landed him on the front pages of the newspapers, rebuked by everyone from talk show host Montel Williams to New York City's then mayor, David Dinkins. Danson's use of blackface was shocking, but was the furious pitch of the response a triumphant

Overview

When the actor Ted Danson appeared in blackface at a 1993 Friars Club roast, he ignited a firestorm of protest that landed him on the front pages of the newspapers, rebuked by everyone from talk show host Montel Williams to New York City's then mayor, David Dinkins. Danson's use of blackface was shocking, but was the furious pitch of the response a triumphant indication of how far society has progressed since the days when blackface performers were the toast of vaudeville, or was it also an uncomfortable reminder of how deep the chasm still is separating black and white America?
In Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture, Susan Gubar, who fundamentally changed the way we think about women's literature as co-author of the acclaimed The Madwoman in the Attic, turns her attention to the incendiary issue of race. Through a far-reaching exploration of the long overlooked legacy of minstrelsy—cross-racial impersonations or "racechanges"—throughout modern American film, fiction, poetry, painting, photography, and journalism, she documents the indebtedness of "mainstream" artists to African-American culture, and explores the deeply conflicted psychology of white guilt. The fascinating "racechanges" Gubar discusses include whites posing as blacks and blacks "passing" for white; blackface on white actors in The Jazz Singer, Birth of a Nation, and other movies, as well as on the faces of black stage entertainers; African-American deployment of racechange imagery during the Harlem Renaissance, including the poetry of Anne Spencer, the black-and-white prints of Richard Bruce Nugent, and the early work of Zora Neale Hurston; white poets and novelists from Vachel Lindsay and Gertrude Stein to John Berryman and William Faulkner writing as if they were black; white artists and writers fascinated by hypersexualized stereotypes of black men; and nightmares and visions of the racechanged baby. Gubar shows that unlike African-Americans, who often are forced to adopt white masks to gain their rights, white people have chosen racial masquerades, which range from mockery and mimicry to an evolving emphasis on inter-racial mutuality and mutability.
Drawing on a stunning array of illustrations, including paintings, film stills, computer graphics, and even magazine morphings, Racechanges sheds new light on the persistent pervasiveness of racism and exciting aesthetic possibilities for lessening the distance between blacks and whites.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195134186
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Series:
Race and American Culture Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
ix
Preface xiii
Adventures in The Skin Trade
3(50)
Spirit-Murder at the Movies
53(42)
Blackface Lynchings
Making White, Becoming Black
95(39)
Myths of Racial Origin in the Harlem Renaissance
De Modern Do Mr. Bones
134(35)
(and All That Ventriloquist Jazz)
Psychopathologies of Black Envy
169(34)
Queer Colors
What Will The Mixed Child Deliver?
203(37)
Conceiving Color Without Race
The Edible Complex
240(23)
A Postscript
Notes 263(30)
Works Cited 293(20)
Index 313

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