White Skin, Black Face in American Culture

Gubar

Published by Oxford University Press, 1997
ISBN 10: 0195134184 / ISBN 13: 9780195134186
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Includes B&W illustration and index. Very clean and tight copy. Size: 6 1/4" x 9 1/4". 327 pp. Text is in German. No marks. Binding is tight, covers and spine fully intact. Previous owner's signature in ink. Edges browned slightly. Not Ex-Library. All books offered from DSB are stocked at our store in Fayetteville, AR. Save on shipping by ordering multiple titles. Category: Sociology & Culture; German Language; ISBN: 0195134184. ISBN/EAN: 9780195134186. Inventory No: 027880. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: When the actor Ted Danson appeared in blackface at a 1993 Friars Club roast, he ignited a firestorm of protest that landed him on the front pages of the newspapers, rebuked by everyone from talk show host Montel Williams to New York City's then mayor, David Dinkins. Danson's use of blackface was shocking, but was the furious pitch of the response a triumphant indication of how far society has progressed since the days when blackface performers were the toast of vaudeville, or was it also an uncomfortable reminder of how deep the chasm still is separating black and white America?
In Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture, Susan Gubar, who fundamentally changed the way we think about women's literature as co-author of the acclaimed The Madwoman in the Attic, turns her attention to the incendiary issue of race. Through a far-reaching exploration of the long overlooked legacy of minstrelsy--cross-racial impersonations or "racechanges"--throughout modern American film, fiction, poetry, painting, photography, and journalism, she documents the indebtedness of "mainstream" artists to African-American culture, and explores the deeply conflicted psychology of white guilt. The fascinating "racechanges" Gubar discusses include whites posing as blacks and blacks "passing" for white; blackface on white actors in The Jazz Singer, Birth of a Nation, and other movies, as well as on the faces of black stage entertainers; African-American deployment of racechange imagery during the Harlem Renaissance, including the poetry of Anne Spencer, the black-and-white prints of Richard Bruce Nugent, and the early work of Zora Neale Hurston; white poets and novelists from Vachel Lindsay and Gertrude Stein to John Berryman and William Faulkner writing as if they were black; white artists and writers fascinated by hypersexualized stereotypes of black men; and nightmares and visions of the racechanged baby. Gubar shows that unlike African-Americans, who often are forced to adopt white masks to gain their rights, white people have chosen racial masquerades, which range from mockery and mimicry to an evolving emphasis on inter-racial mutuality and mutability.
Drawing on a stunning array of illustrations, including paintings, film stills, computer graphics, and even magazine morphings, Racechanges sheds new light on the persistent pervasiveness of racism and exciting aesthetic possibilities for lessening the distance between blacks and whites.

Review: The great strength of this fascinating examination of "cross-racial impersonations and imitators" is the thoroughness with which Susan Gubar approaches her topic, focusing on film, literature, journalism, painting, and photography. Because she focuses on the decades before the 1970s, Gubar takes in a great deal of territory--movies such as Birth of a Nation, in which blacks were played by whites in blackface; and Watermelon Man, a 1970 film in which black comedian Godfrey Cambridge played a white man who mysteriously becomes black; the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe; minstrel images of Bing Crosby, Shirley Temple, and Mickey Rooney; as well as instances of literary "blackface" such as white writer William Styron's novel The Confession of Nat Turner. This is an important work that illuminates the tangle of American mulatto culture that produced both Elvis (who wanted to sing like a black man) and country music singer Charlie Pride.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Softcover
Book Condition: Very Good Condition

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