Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Preface

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pp. vii-xiii

As a prologue to The Adventures of Huckletberry Finn, its author gave notice that readers attempting to find a "moral" in his narrative would be "prosecuted." Some who pick up this book anticipating the nostalgic memorabilia of vaudeville may feel that for my attempt to find general meaning...

Contents

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pp. xv-xviii

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1. The Symbolism of Vaudeville

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pp. 1-15

American vaudeville by 1915 had reached its full maturity. From its infancy, thirty years before, it had grown with such amazing rapidity that even in 1900 it had dominated popular amusements in the more thickly populated areas of the United...

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2. Evolution of a Ritual

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pp. 16-37

American vaudeville was shaped in the performances of the major circuits, and as such it was neither born whole nor imported from foreign shores. Its roots were only partially European, and its most evident sources were the itinerant amusements...

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3. The New Folk and Their Heroes

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pp. 38-65

The vaudeville audience, amorphous as it was, would appear to defy characterization, but even without precise quantitative definition, it takes on at least the outlines of an identity. We know, for example, that the theaters were generally...

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4. From Sin to Sociology

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pp. 66-90

Were the vaudeville ritual a simple morality play, like the rags-to-riches versions of the Horatio Alger story that found their way onto the popular stage from time to time, problems of analysis would be all but eliminated. And if the...

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5. The Mechanics of Fantasy

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pp. 91-105

The symbol-making aspects of vaudeville had also an operational side. Seen from the wings by a detached observer, the performance itself must have seemed rigidly mechanical, for, as with roleplayers in most highly developed rituals, the vaudeville performers...

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6. The New Humor

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pp. 106-137

Toward the close of the nineteenth century, Edward Harrigan, the realistic dramatist, was heard to complain: "There's been a great change in the sense of humor in New York. I tell you it's the Irish and Anglo-Germanic people who know how to laugh. The great influx of Latins...

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7. A Modern Totemism and Sorcery

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pp. 138-164

As our previous discussion has pointed out, there is a fundamental distinction between the primitive rituals unearthed by anthropology in many corners of the globe and the ritual of the New Folk. Whereas primitive rituals have nearly always been expressions of a world view in which nature is...

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8. The Playlets

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pp. 165-192

When "drama" assumed an important place in vaudeville during the 1895-1896 season, mythic elements were added to the ritualistic aspects of vaudeville. So long as the show consisted of a superficially unrelated medley of acts, vaudeville had been under no compulsion to describe or explain...

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9. The Palaces

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pp. 193-210

The twenty-fourth of March, 1894, two days before the opening performance at B. F. Keith's New Theatre in Boston, two thousand invited guests, including "leading dignitaries of the State and city" as well as "representatives of the wealth and culture of New England," inspected this...

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10. The Patterns of Ritual Meaning

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pp. 211-222

While vaudeville as ritual enacted for the New Folk the myth with which to meet the challenge of the Industrial Age, its lessons were not lost upon the entertainment forms which displaced it. As a symbol of the modern American's search for commonality of vision, as an expression...

Notes

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pp. 223-238

A Note on the Sources

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pp. 239-242

Index

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pp. 243-253

Image plates

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