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Tuesday Talks: Vaudeville and Blackface Minstrelsy: Transgressions and Transformations


Photograph of the Belvidere Commercial Club Minstrels, Belvidere, Ohio, 1910 (detail).
Photograph of the Belvidere Commercial Club Minstrels, Belvidere, Ohio, 1910 (detail).

Date: February 2, 2010

Times: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Location:   Main Library

Contact: Research Support Librarians

Cost: Free

Description:

Join us for Tuesday Talks @ the University Libraries, an exciting lecture series in the Main Library East Lobby that explores the wide ranging research interests at the University of Arizona.

In honor of Black History Month, Greg Grewell, PhD candidate in the Department of English will lecture on Vaudeville and Blackface Minstrelsy: Transgressions and Transformations. Although it existed before the advent of Vaudeville, blackface minstrelsy played a major part in the song, dance, and comedy acts and routines that Vaudeville promoted and popularized. Prior to and during Vaudeville blackface minstrelsy generally entertained audiences at the expense of those it ridiculed.

Despite its racist origins, however, as a part of Vaudeville blackface also became transformative: its early twentieth-century use by Vaudevillians of color such as Ernest Hogan, Bert Williams, and George Walker allowed them greater access to better paying gigs in front of white audiences than had been possible pre-Vaudeville, resulted in multiracial casts sharing the stage, and opened the doors for other Vaudevillians of color such as Timmie Rogers to take the stage without blackface—all of which enabled movement toward desegregation and equality.