Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture

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Oxford University Press, 20 apr 2000 - 356 pagine
When the actor Ted Danson appeared in blackface at a 1993 Friars Club roast, he ignited a firestorm of protest that landed him on the front pages of the newspapers, rebuked by everyone from talk show host Montel Williams to New York City's then mayor, David Dinkins. Danson's use of blackface was shocking, but was the furious pitch of the response a triumphant indication of how far society has progressed since the days when blackface performers were the toast of vaudeville, or was it also an uncomfortable reminder of how deep the chasm still is separating black and white America? In Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture, Susan Gubar, who fundamentally changed the way we think about women's literature as co-author of the acclaimed The Madwoman in the Attic, turns her attention to the incendiary issue of race. Through a far-reaching exploration of the long overlooked legacy of minstrelsy--cross-racial impersonations or "racechanges"--throughout modern American film, fiction, poetry, painting, photography, and journalism, she documents the indebtedness of "mainstream" artists to African-American culture, and explores the deeply conflicted psychology of white guilt. The fascinating "racechanges" Gubar discusses include whites posing as blacks and blacks "passing" for white; blackface on white actors in The Jazz Singer, Birth of a Nation, and other movies, as well as on the faces of black stage entertainers; African-American deployment of racechange imagery during the Harlem Renaissance, including the poetry of Anne Spencer, the black-and-white prints of Richard Bruce Nugent, and the early work of Zora Neale Hurston; white poets and novelists from Vachel Lindsay and Gertrude Stein to John Berryman and William Faulkner writing as if they were black; white artists and writers fascinated by hypersexualized stereotypes of black men; and nightmares and visions of the racechanged baby. Gubar shows that unlike African-Americans, who often are forced to adopt white masks to gain their rights, white people have chosen racial masquerades, which range from mockery and mimicry to an evolving emphasis on inter-racial mutuality and mutability. Drawing on a stunning array of illustrations, including paintings, film stills, computer graphics, and even magazine morphings, Racechanges sheds new light on the persistent pervasiveness of racism and exciting aesthetic possibilities for lessening the distance between blacks and whites.
 

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RACECHANGES: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture

Recensione dell'utente  - Kirkus

Synthesizing the remarkable work over the last 15 years of scores of cultural historians, theorists, and critics who have been engaged in documenting and analyzing the ubiquitous legacy of blackface ... Leggi recensione completa

Sommario

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ix
PREFACE
xiii
1 ADVENTURES IN THE SKIN TRADE
3
Blackface Lynchings
53
Myths of Racial Origin in the Harlem Renaissance
95
4 DE MODERN DO MR BONES and All That Ventriloquist Jazz
134
Queer Colors
169
6 WHAT WILL THE MIXED CHILD DELIVER? Conceiving Color Without Race
203
A Postscript
240
NOTES
263
WORKS CITED
293
INDEX
313
Copyright

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Pagina 2 - What one's imagination makes of other people is dictated, of course, by the laws of one's own personality and it is one of the ironies of blackwhite relations that, by means of what the white man imagines the black man to be, the black man is enabled to know who the white man is.
Pagina 2 - Black slavery enriched the country's creative possibilities. For in that construction of blackness and enslavement could be found not only the notfree but also, with the dramatic polarity created by skin color, the projection of the not-me.

Informazioni sull'autore (2000)

Susan Gubar is Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University. She has co-authored and co-edited a range of books with Sandra Gilbert, from The Madwoman in the Attic (a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award) to The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women.

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