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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

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Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Race and American Culture)

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Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Race and American Culture) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For over two centuries, America has celebrated the very black culture it attempts to control and repress, and nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the strange practice of blackface performance. Born of extreme racial and class conflicts, the blackface minstrel show sometimes

usefully intensified them. Based on the appropriation of black dialect, music, and dance, minstrelsy at once applauded and lampooned black culture, ironically contributing to a "blackening of America." Drawing on recent research in cultural studies and social history, Eric Lott examines the role of

the blackface minstrel show in the political struggles of the years leading up to the Civil War. Reading minstrel music, lyrics, jokes, burlesque skits, and illustrations in tandem with working-class racial ideologies and the sex/gender system, Love and Theft argues that blackface minstrelsy both

embodied and disrupted the racial tendencies of its largely white, male, working-class audiences. Underwritten by envy as well as repulsion, sympathetic identification as well as fear--a dialectic of "love and theft"--the minstrel show continually transgressed the color line even as it enabled the

formation of a self-consciously white working class. Lott exposes minstrelsy as a signifier for multiple breaches: the rift between high and low cultures, the commodification of the dispossessed by the empowered, the attraction mixed with guilt of whites caught in the act of cultural

thievery.

Synopsis:

For over two centuries, America has celebrated the very black culture it attempts to control and repress, and nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the strange practice of blackface performance. Born of extreme racial and class conflicts, the blackface minstrel show sometimes usefully intensified them. Based on the appropriation of black dialect, music, and dance, minstrelsy at once applauded and lampooned black culture, ironically contributing to a "blackening of America." Drawing on recent research in cultural studies and social history, Eric Lott examines the role of the blackface minstrel show in the political struggles of the years leading up to the Civil War. Reading minstrel music, lyrics, jokes, burlesque skits, and illustrations in tandem with working-class racial ideologies and the sex/gender system, Love and Theft argues that blackface minstrelsy both embodied and disrupted the racial tendencies of its largely white, male, working-class audiences. Underwritten by envy as well as repulsion, sympathetic identification as well as fear--a dialectic of "love and theft"--the minstrel show continually transgressed the color line even as it enabled the formation of a self-consciously white working class. Lott exposes minstrelsy as a signifier for multiple breaches: the rift between high and low cultures, the commodification of the dispossessed by the empowered, the attraction mixed with guilt of whites caught in the act of cultural thievery.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-303) and index.

About the Author

Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor at King's College London. He has also taught at Harvard and Columbia Universities. His books include Eurekas and Euphorias and The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception and Human Frailty.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195096415
Author:
Lott, Eric
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
null, Eric
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
American - African American & Black
Subject:
Race relations
Subject:
African-American & Black
Subject:
Literature/English | American Literature | African American
Subject:
American - African American
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
Race and American Culture (Paperback)
Series Volume:
#27
Publication Date:
19950531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
14 illus.
Pages:
328
Dimensions:
9.20x6.11x.84 in. 1.00 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » General
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Production » General
History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Molecular

Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Race and American Culture) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 328 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195096415 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , For over two centuries, America has celebrated the very black culture it attempts to control and repress, and nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the strange practice of blackface performance. Born of extreme racial and class conflicts, the blackface minstrel show sometimes usefully intensified them. Based on the appropriation of black dialect, music, and dance, minstrelsy at once applauded and lampooned black culture, ironically contributing to a "blackening of America." Drawing on recent research in cultural studies and social history, Eric Lott examines the role of the blackface minstrel show in the political struggles of the years leading up to the Civil War. Reading minstrel music, lyrics, jokes, burlesque skits, and illustrations in tandem with working-class racial ideologies and the sex/gender system, Love and Theft argues that blackface minstrelsy both embodied and disrupted the racial tendencies of its largely white, male, working-class audiences. Underwritten by envy as well as repulsion, sympathetic identification as well as fear--a dialectic of "love and theft"--the minstrel show continually transgressed the color line even as it enabled the formation of a self-consciously white working class. Lott exposes minstrelsy as a signifier for multiple breaches: the rift between high and low cultures, the commodification of the dispossessed by the empowered, the attraction mixed with guilt of whites caught in the act of cultural thievery.
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