The Last “Darky” establishes Bert Williams, the comedian of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, as central to the development of a global black modernism centered in Harlem’s Renaissance. Before integrating Broadway in 1910 via a controversial stint with the Ziegfeld Follies, Williams was already an international icon. Yet his name has faded into near obscurity, his extraordinary accomplishments forgotten largely because he performed in blackface. Louis Chude-Sokei contends that Williams’s blackface was not a display of internalized racism nor a submission to the expectations of the moment. It was an appropriation and exploration of the contradictory and potentially liberating power of racial stereotypes. Chude-Sokei makes the crucial argument that Williams’s minstrelsy negotiated the place of black immigrants in the cultural hotbed of New York City and was replicated throughout the African diaspora, from the Caribbean to Africa itself. Williams was born in the Bahamas. When performing the “darky,” he was actually masquerading as an African American. This black-on-black minstrelsy thus challenged emergent racial constructions equating “black” with African American and marginalizing the many diasporic blacks in New York. It also dramatized the practice of passing for African American common among non-American blacks in an African American–dominated Harlem. Exploring the thought of figures such as Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Claude McKay, Chude-Sokei situates black-on-black minstrelsy at the center of burgeoning modernist discourses of assimilation, separatism, race militancy, carnival, and internationalism. While these discourses were engaged with the question of representing the “Negro” in the context of white racism, through black-on-black minstrelsy they were also deployed against the growing international influence of African American culture and politics in the twentieth century.
The Sound of Culture explores the histories of race and technology in a world made by slavery, colonialism, and industrialization. Beginning in the late nineteenth century and moving through to the twenty-first, the book argues for the dependent nature of those histories. Looking at American, British, and Caribbean literature, it distills a diverse range of subject matter: minstrelsy, Victorian science fiction, cybertheory, and artificial intelligence. All of these facets, according to Louis Chude-Sokei, are part of a history in which music has been central to the equation that links blacks and machines. As Chude-Sokei shows, science fiction itself has roots in racial anxieties and he traces those anxieties across two centuries and a range of writers and thinkers—from Samuel Butler, Herman Melville, and Edgar Rice Burroughs to Sigmund Freud, William Gibson, and Donna Haraway, to Norbert Weiner, Sylvia Wynter, and Samuel R. Delany.
This book provides a fresh account of the major cultural and intellectual trends of the United State in the 1910s, a decade characterised by war, the flowering of modernism, the birth of Hollywood, and Progressive interpretations of culture and society. Chapters on fiction and poetry, art and photography, film and vaudeville, and music, theatre, and dance explore these developments, linking detailed commentary with focused case studies of influential texts and events. These range from Tarzan of the Apes to The Birth of a Nation, from the radical modernism of Gertrude Stein and the Provincetown Players to the earliest jazz recordings. A final chapter explores the huge impact of the First World War on cultural understandings of nationalism, citizenship, and propaganda.Key Features*three case studies per chapter featuring key texts, genres, writers and artists*Detailed chronology of 1910s American Culture*Bibliographies for each chapter*Fifteen black and white illustrations
The period of 1880 to 1929 is the richest theater era in American history, certainly the number of plays produced and significant artists, as well as in the centrality of theater in the lives of Americans. As the impact of European modernism gradually seeped into American theater during the 1880s and 1890s, more traditional forms of theater gave way to futurism, symbolism, surrealism, and expressionism. Such playwrights as Eugene O'Neill, George Kelly, Elmer Rice, Philip Barry, and George S. Kaufman ushered in the golden age of American drama. Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Modernism focuses on legitimate drama, both as influenced by modernism in Europe and by the popular entertainment that also enlivened the era. This is accomplished through a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced entries on plays, music, playwrights, performers, producers, critics, architects, designers, and costumes.