American Studies 2001: Introduction to American Studies

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Unit I: Minstrelsy

Key Concepts: Race, Slavery, South, Performance, Class, Gender 

Wednesday, August 23

Topic: Introduction and Overview: Doing American Studies

Assignment: Find the right room

Monday, August 28

Topic: Blackface Minstrelsy: Race, Ambiguity, and Popular Culture in America

Assignment: Stephen Johnson, “Introduction: The Persistence of Blackface and the Minstrel Tradition,” (excerpt, pp. 1-9), from Stephen Johnson, ed., Burnt Cork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy (2012); and Eric Lott, “’The Seeming Counterfeit’: Racial Politics and Early Blackface Minstrelsy,” American Quarterly 43, no. 2 (June 1991): 223-254.

Wednesday, August 30

Topic: The History of Nineteenth Century Blackface Minstrelsy: Dancing Fools and Blacked Up Black Men

Assignment: Ralph Ellison, “Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke,” (1958); minstrel songs and performance clips in the class's Kaltura Media Gallery.

Monday, September 4

Topic: Blackface in the Twentieth Century: Minstrelsy and Folk Music 

Assignment: “folk” songs; Hale, “Black as Folk: The Folk Music Revival, the Civil Rights Movement, and Bob Dylan” from Grace Elizabeth Hale, A Nation of Outsiders (2011)

Wednesday, September 6

Topic: Minstrelsy in Contemporary Popular Culture

Assignment: film: Spike Lee, Bamboozled (2000) located in the class's Kaltura Media Gallery in Collab; and Alice Maurice, “From New Deal to No Deal: Blackface Minstrelsy, Bamboozled, and Reality Television,” (pp. 191-222) in Stephen Johnson, ed., Burnt Cork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy (2012).