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Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History

Racism and Early Blackface Comic Traditions

From the Old World to the New

Authors: Hornback, Robert

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  • Emphasizes the power of the comic to transmit early ideology about race
  • Articulates a new theory of “proto-racism” based in a “metaphysical determinism” founded in pre-modern philosophy, theology, and moral allegory
  • Offers fresh readings of Harlequin’s black mask, as well as of Othello and Antony and Cleopatra
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eBook $79.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-78048-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-78047-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-08608-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book traces blackface types from ancient masks of grinning Africans and phallus-bearing Roman fools through to comedic medieval devils, the pan-European black-masked Titivillus and Harlequin, and racial impersonation via stereotypical 'black speech' explored in the Renaissance by Lope de Vega and Shakespeare. Jim Crow and antebellum minstrelsy recycled Old World blackface stereotypes of irrationality, ignorance, pride, and immorality. Drawing upon biblical interpretations and philosophy, comic types from moral allegory originated supposedly modern racial stereotypes. Early blackface traditions thus spread damning race-belief that black people were less rational, hence less moral and less human. Such notions furthered the global Renaissance’s intertwined Atlantic slave and sugar trades and early nationalist movements. The latter featured overlapping definitions of race and nation, as well as of purity of blood, language, and religion in opposition to 'Strangers'. Ultimately, Old World beliefs still animate supposed 'biological racism' and so-called 'white nationalism' in the age of Trump.

About the authors

Robert Hornback is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Oglethorpe University, USA. He teaches Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Contemporaries, Medieval & Renaissance Literature, Ancient Literature, and Comedy: Ancient to Renaissance. He is the author of The English Clown Tradition from the Middle Ages to Shakespeare (2009) and has published widely on fools and comedy.

Table of contents (9 chapters)

Table of contents (9 chapters)
  • Introduction: Recovering the Contexts of Early Modern Proto-Racism

    Pages 1-33

    Hornback, Robert

  • Harlequin as Theatergram: Transmitting the Timeworn Black Mask, Ancient to Antebellum

    Pages 35-69

    Hornback, Robert

  • Beyond Good and Evil Symbolism: Allegories and Metaphysics of Blackfaced Folly from Augustine to Fanon

    Pages 71-107

    Hornback, Robert

  • From Allegorical Type and Sartorial Satire to Minstrel Dandy Stereotype, Zip Coon, Jim Crow, and Blackface-on-Black Violence

    Pages 109-141

    Hornback, Robert

  • Sambo Dialects: Defining National Language Boundaries via Early Representations of Stereotypically Black Speech

    Pages 143-174

    Hornback, Robert

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-78048-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-78047-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-08608-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Racism and Early Blackface Comic Traditions
Book Subtitle
From the Old World to the New
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History
Copyright
2018
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-78048-1
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-78048-1
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-78047-4
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-08608-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 324
Number of Illustrations
9 b/w illustrations
Topics