Fall 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:491 Seminar: Global Blackface

01  MW 1:00-2:20  03143  JONES   ONLINE

Global Blackface

Blackface is one of the most controversial, yet abiding performance practices in the world today.  But as a field of study, blackface scholarship has long suffered from a nationalist bias that insists upon the nation – and of the United States, in particular – as the default frame for analyzing blackface, minstrelsy, and related forms of performance. Over the past decade or so, scholars have begun to challenge these nationalist assumptions, offering new frameworks for understanding the evolutions of blackface performance from the nineteenth century through the present. This seminar will examine the history and presence of blackface—as performance, as art object, as politicized epidermis—in its global contexts, flows, and dimensions. Our primary areas of investigation will include:  

  • geographies of blackface performance and popular culture, particularly in and through the Global South
  • black minstrelsy and other forms of blackface racialized performance by black, minoritarian, colonized, and subaltern performers within and beyond the United States
  • nexuses of blackface and popular music (e.g., jazz and hip hop), dance, (e.g., the Charleston, the Butterfly, the Dougie)
  • performances of gender, especially by minoritarian, colonized, and subaltern female blackface performers
  • the politics of skin lightening and related cosmetic practice