” Of course in the Trump era, any pretenses of postracialism have been proved laughable; it was a concept that was met with a stern side eye by most Americans attuned to entrenched racism, but it now seems quaint to think it was once celebrated as an achievement, as if the arc of racialized hierarchies that birthed blackface minstrelsy had found its resolution in the election of Barak Obama (who, notably, had his share of blackface imitators).Sammond asserts that in these instances of blackface minstrelsy, “we witness iterations of an anxious and mutually constitutive process through which whiteness leans heavily on a fantastic and hyper-genuine blackness for its paradoxically inauthentic superiority.” The question of how to read the persistence of blackface minstrelsy in the Trump era is an open one; if Sammond lacks a clear answer, he nonetheless provides the tools to approach such a question, noting that the very premise of “a shared investment in fantastic blackness as a liberatory force in democratic capitalist America, In these ways, Sammond’s study will prove generative not only for scholars of race or of animation but for anyone approaching subjects ancillary to his main focus, whether that is media industry or audience reception.Moving beyond the familiar territory of blackface and minstrelsy, these essays present a fresh look at the history of African Americans and mass culture.
The book is organized to reflect animation’s key trope of repetition; “the examination of cartoons encourages a repetitive mode of reading in which the same objects and practices are viewed from different vantage points, as different facets of the same object.” The chapters, then, are each thematically structured around an organizing perspective: performance, the labor of cartoon creation, the alteration and regulation of on- and off-screen space, and the implications of minstrelsy on racial formation.The essays explore the predicament that blacks faced at a time when white supremacy crested and innovations in consumption, technology, and leisure made mass culture possible. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Clare Corbould, University of Sydney Susan Curtis, Purdue University Stephanie Dunson, Williams College Lewis A.Underscoring the importance and complexity of race in the emergence of mass culture, Beyond Blackface depicts popular culture as a crucial arena in which African Americans struggled to secure a foothold as masters of their own representation and architects of the nation's emerging consumer society. Erenberg, Loyola University Chicago Stephen Garton, University of Sydney John M. [It] stands as an excellent overview that fills a large gap in the scholarship."--The Historian "An invaluable introduction to the emergence of African American popular culture."--Florida Historical Quarterly "This first-rate collection of essays seeks to move conversations about black performance, black culture, and the embodiment of both beyond the heretofore 'comfortable' terrain of blackface and minstrelsy. The Introduction traces the history of blackface minstrelsy through three distinct moments in American film from the early twentieth century to our contemporary day.By highlighting the persistence of blackface minstrelsy in American culture, this long view helps place the discussion of animation within a wider cultural context.takes a “bad object”—in this case, blackface minstrelsy—and details its centrality to the rise of early American animation and, by extension, the development of the national film industry more broadly.Indeed, even if it garners no mention (an absence that reads as a deliberate gesture, given the book’s evocative title, and one that has a lexical effect that parallels the “vestigial minstrels” of his study).This collection of thirteen essays, edited by historian W.Fitzhugh Brundage, brings together original work from sixteen scholars in various disciplines, ranging from theater and literature to history and music, to address the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture during the early twentieth century.The site also includes additional materials concerning blackface minstrelsy, vaudeville, and animation, and provides historical and critical context for each media excerpt that complements the printed text., Nicholas Sammond demonstrates that the specter of racialized caricature and its attending performative power dynamics have a longer and more pernicious continuum through which race, industry, and the nation understood and affected one another.