Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930

Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930

by W. Fitzhugh Brundage (Editor)


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This collection of thirteen essays, edited by historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage, brings together original work from sixteen scholars in various disciplines, ranging from theater and literature to history and music, to address the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture during the early twentieth century.

Moving beyond the familiar territory of blackface and minstrelsy, these essays present a fresh look at the history of African Americans and mass culture. With subjects ranging from representations of race in sheet music illustrations to African American interest in Haitian culture, Beyond Blackface recovers the history of forgotten or obscure cultural figures and shows how these historical actors played a role in the creation of American mass culture. The essays explore the predicament that blacks faced at a time when white supremacy crested and innovations in consumption, technology, and leisure made mass culture possible. Underscoring the importance and complexity of race in the emergence of mass culture, Beyond Blackface depicts popular culture as a crucial arena in which African Americans struggled to secure a foothold as masters of their own representation and architects of the nation's emerging consumer society.

The contributors are:
Davarian L. Baldwin, Trinity College
W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Clare Corbould, University of Sydney
Susan Curtis, Purdue University
Stephanie Dunson, Williams College
Lewis A. Erenberg, Loyola University Chicago
Stephen Garton, University of Sydney
John M. Giggie, University of Alabama
Grace Elizabeth Hale, University of Virginia
Robert Jackson, University of Tulsa
David Krasner, Emerson College
Thomas Riis, University of Colorado at Boulder
Stephen Robertson, University of Sydney
John Stauffer, Harvard University
Graham White, University of Sydney
Shane White, University of Sydney

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807871843
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 07/15/2011
Series: H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

W. Fitzhugh Brundage is William B. Umstead Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Working in the "Kingdom of Culture": African Americans and American Popular Culture, 2890-1930 W. Fitzhugh Brundage 1

first coda Representations of Blackness in Nineteenth-Century Culture 43

Black Misrepresentation in Nineteenth-Century Sheet Music Illustration Stephanie Dunson 45

Creating an Image in Black: The Power of Abolition Pictures John Stauffer 66

second coda The Marketplace for Black Performance 95

The Real Thing David Krasner 99

Black Creativity and Black Stereotype: Rethinking Twentieth-Century Popular Music in America Susan Curtis 124

Crossing Boundaries: Black Musicians Who Defied Musical Genres Thomas Riis 147

Our Newcomers to the City: The Great Migration and the Making of Modern Mass Culture Davarian L. Baldwin 159

Buying and Selling with God: African American Religion, Race Records, and the Emerging Culture of Mass Consumption in the South John M. Giggie 190

third coda The Meanings and Uses of Popular Culture 213

The Secret Life of Oscar Micheaux: Race Films, Contested Histories, and Modern American Culture Robert Jackson 215

Hear Me Talking to You: The Blues and the Romance of Rebellion Grace Elizabeth Hale 239

At the Feet of Dessalines: Performing Haiti's Revolution during the New Negro Renaissance Clare Corbould 259

fourth coda Spectacle, Celebrity, and. the Black Body 289

The Black Eagle of Harlem: Shan White, Stephen Garton, Stephen Robertson, And Graham White 291

More than a Prizefight: Joe Louis, Max Schmeling, and the Transnational Politics of Boxing Lewis A. Erenberg 315

Contributors 357

Index 361

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This anthology deftly illuminates the revealing innovation and experimentation that characterized black culture, American popular culture, and the fruits of their cross-pollination in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These rich essays make abundantly clear the extraordinary impact of African Americans and African American culture on the making of modern American popular culture.—Waldo E. Martin Jr., University of California, Berkeley

This first-rate collection of essays seeks to move conversations about black performance, black culture, and the embodiment of both beyond the heretofore 'comfortable' terrain of blackface and minstrelsy. It does so with resounding success. Bravo to the essayists of this excellent volume.—Jonathan Scott Holloway, Yale University

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