Abstract

Abstract:

This essay offers a formal and intellectual history of Black minstrelsy, the now-controversial theatrical practice from the 1870s to 1890s that was the most influential outlet for the development of African American performance culture before the twentieth century. Black minstrelsy canalized the aesthetic, ideological, and spatial dimensions of what the essay calls “The Black Below,” which is its name for conceptual and physical spaces of a ludic, boisterous sociality where Black people refuse to center white supremacist oppression, but celebrate themselves through laughter, tears, and sexuality with no qualms about how others would receive or register their delights. The essay shows how the vernacular modes and practices that organize the Black Below (including Black minstrelsy) conditioned the shape and substance of African American modernity's most significant artistic interventions, such as Black satire.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 129-146
Launched on MUSE
2021-06-26
Open Access
No
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