Transoceanic Blackface: Empire, Race, Performance (2024)

Kellen Hoxworth



A material history of racialized performance throughout the Anglophone imperial world, Transoceanic Blackface: Empire, Race, Performance revises prevailing understandings of blackface and minstrelsy as distinctively US American cultural practices. Tracing intertwined histories of racialized performance from the mid-eighteenth through the early twentieth century across the United States and the British Empire, this study maps the circulations of blackface repertoires in theatrical spectacles, popular songs, visual materials, comic operas, closet dramas, dance forms, and Shakespearean burlesques. Kellen Hoxworth focuses on overlooked performance histories, such as the early blackface minstrelsy of T. D. Rice’s “Jump Jim Crow” and the widely staged blackface burlesque versions of Othello, as traces of the racial and sexual anxieties of empire. From the nascent theatrical cultures of Australia, Britain, Canada, India, Jamaica, South Africa, and the United States, Transoceanic Blackface offers critical insight into the ways racialized performance animated the imperial “common sense” of white supremacy on a global scale.


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