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Behind the Burnt Cork Mask : Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture - William J. Mahar

Behind the Burnt Cork Mask

Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture

Paperback Published: 1st November 1998
ISBN: 9780252066962
Number Of Pages: 472

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The songs, dances, jokes, parodies, spoofs, and skits of blackface groups such as the Virginia Minstrels and Buckley's Serenaders became wildly popular in antebellum America. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask not only explores the racist practices of these entertainers but considers their performances as troubled representations of ethnicity, class, gender, and culture in the nineteenth century.

William J. Mahar's unprecedented archival study of playbills, newspapers, sketches, monologues, and music engages new sources previously not considered in twentieth-century scholarship. More than any other study of its kind, Behind the Burnt Cork Mask investigates the relationships between blackface comedy and other Western genres and traditions; between the music of minstrel shows and its European sources; and between "popular" and "elite" constructions of culture.

By locating minstrel performances within their complex sites of production, Mahar offers a significant reassessment of the historiography of the field. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask promises to redefine the study of blackface minstrelsy, charting new directions for future inquiries by scholars in American studies, popular culture, and musicology.

Industry Reviews

"Make[s] available much valuable and fascinating material found nowhere else in the literature on blackface minstrelsy, so much so that Behind the Burnt Cork Mask can itself serve as a primary source for further research." -- Charles Hamm, Journal of the American Musicological Society

List of Musical Examples
Introductionp. 1
Revisiting Minstrelsy's History: The Playbill and Contextual Evidencep. 9
The Playbillsp. 42
Blackface Parodies of American Speech and Rhetoric: Burlesque Lectures and Sermons, Political Orations, Comic Dialogues, and Storiesp. 59
Opera for the Masses: Burlesques of English and Italian Operap. 101
Ethiopian Sketches of American Life: Skits, Farces, and Afterpiecesp. 157
Blackface Minstrelsy, Masculinity, and Social Rituals in Vocal and Choral Repertoriesp. 195
Blackface Minstrelsy and Misogyny in Vocal and Choral Repertoriesp. 268
Conclusionp. 329
Representative Minstrel Companies and Personnel in Playbills and Newspaper Advertisements, 1843-60p. 355
Representative Concluding Numbers from Selected Minstrel Shows, 1843-60p. 364
Song Text Frequency in Selected Antebellum Songstersp. 367
Notesp. 369
Works Citedp. 413
Indexp. 431
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780252066962
ISBN-10: 0252066960
Series: Music in American Life
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 472
Published: 1st November 1998
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.64