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Blackface Minstrelsy, Then and Now
AFAM 218
Fall 2007
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: AMST 218, THEA 218

The main objective of this course is to collectively confront the representations and revisions of America's first, original mass entertainment, blackface minstrelsy. From its original conception as a blackened-up white man dancing as an "authentic" crippled African American to its more recent use by avant-garde theatre troupes and popular entertainment figures, minstrelsy has complicatedly facilitated social commentary on race and gender roles in America. The 19th-century examples will be discussed in relation to three distinct eras. Early minstrelsy will focus on the legends of the beginning of minstrelsy and its relatively benign material based on the song and dance of African Americans; middle minstrelsy will bring to light minstrelsy's well-known racism and sexism in the era of women's suffrage and abolitionist movements; and late minstrelsy will facilitate discussions on African Americans' participation in minstrelsy, as well as its absorption into vaudeville and musical theatre. The 20th-century minstrelsy examples will consider the play THE EMPEROR JONES by Eugene O'Neill; Broadway and MGM movie musicals (SHOW BOAT, HOLIDAY, BABES IN ARMS); the work of the SoHo theatre group the Wooster Group in their restaging of EMPEROR JONES and of their own work, ROUTE 1 & 9 (THE LAST ACT); as well as television comedy shows (CHAPPELLE'S SHOW); contemporary film (BULLWORTH, BAMBOOZLED); and public sphere uses of blackface (Ted Danson's roast of Whoopi Goldberg at the Friar's Club in 1993; the 2006 reality TV show, BLACK/WHITE).

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AFAM
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on MAY-30-2024
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