ISBN-10:
0674027604
ISBN-13:
9780674027602
Pub. Date:
03/15/2008
Publisher:
Harvard
Staging Race: Black Performers in Turn of the Century America

Staging Race: Black Performers in Turn of the Century America

by Karen SotiropoulosKaren Sotiropoulos
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Overview

Staging Race casts a spotlight on the generation of black artists who came of age between 1890 and World War I in an era of Jim Crow segregation and heightened racial tensions. As public entertainment expanded through vaudeville, minstrel shows, and world's fairs, black performers, like the stage duo of Bert Williams and George Walker, used the conventions of blackface to appear in front of, and appeal to, white audiences. At the same time, they communicated a leitmotif of black cultural humor and political comment to the black audiences segregated in balcony seats. With ingenuity and innovation, they enacted racial stereotypes onstage while hoping to unmask the fictions that upheld them offstage.

Drawing extensively on black newspapers and commentary of the period, Karen Sotiropoulos shows how black performers and composers participated in a politically charged debate about the role of the expressive arts in the struggle for equality. Despite the racial violence, disenfranchisement, and the segregation of virtually all public space, they used America's new businesses of popular entertainment as vehicles for their own creativity and as spheres for political engagement.

The story of how African Americans entered the stage door and transformed popular culture is a largely untold story. Although ultimately unable to erase racist stereotypes, these pioneering artists brought black music and dance into America's mainstream and helped to spur racial advancement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674027602
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/15/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 611,733
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Karen Sotiropoulos is Associate Professor of History at Cleveland State University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Politics, Not Minstrelsy

1. Minstrel Men and the World's Fair

2. Vaudeville Stages and Black Bohemia

3. The "Coon Craze" and the Search for Authenticity

4. "No Place Like Home": Africa on Stage

5. Morals, Manners, and Stage Life

6. Black Bohemia Moves to Harlem

Coda: Hokum Redux

Notes

Index

What People are Saying About This

Robin D. G. Kelley

Karen Sotiropoulos tells the riveting story of a group of black intellectuals who challenged social Darwinism, imperialism, segregation and promoted a discourse of black nation-building. Brilliantly written and conceived, Staging Race will force us all to rethink early 20th century black musical theater, as well as black political thought during the so-called "nadir" of African American history.
Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

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