Burnt Cork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy

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Stephen Burge Johnson
University of Massachusetts Press, 2012 - Literary Criticism - 266 pages
Beginning in the 1830s and continuing for more than a century, blackface minstrelsystage performances that claimed to represent the culture of black Americansremained arguably the most popular entertainment in North America. A renewed scholarly interest in this contentious form of entertainment has produced studies treating a range of issues: its contradictory depictions of class, race, and gender; its role in the development of racial stereotyping; and its legacy in humor, dance, and music, and in live performance, film, and television. The style and substance of minstrelsy persist in popular music, tap and hip-hop dance, the language of the standup comic, and everyday rituals of contemporary culture. The blackface makeup all but disappeared for a time, though its influence never diminishedand recently, even the makeup has been making a comeback.

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About the author (2012)

Stephen Johnson is a regular contributor to Gramophone and The Independent. He lives in London.

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