What social and political elements served to permanently alter the trajectory of Blackface Minstrelsy as a form of cultural resistance between 1843 and 1850? (Crawford: 132)What were some of the further changes that occurred by the mid-1850s? (Crawford: 122)


(Essay must be written in the form of a Power essay)


1. Chapter 6 in An Introduction to America’s Music, 3rd ed. (Crawford & Hamberlin: 2018)

2. Jenoure, Theresa (1981) “The Afro-American Fiddler,” Contributions in Black Studies: Vol. 5, Article 6. Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cibs/vol5/iss1/6 (Links to an external site.) (Also available in the Canvas Files folder)

3. Wikipedia definition for “Cultural Hegemony” (in the Files folder) and the New World Encyclopedia  definition for “Acculturation” http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Acculturation (Links to an external site.) , while reflecting upon our conversations about these terms as they were presented in class.

Garrett posits that popular musical performance in America has at times been used as a tool of resistance to social, cultural, or political power-structures.

  • Garrett is inspired by George Lipsitz, a leading scholar in American studies, to “interrogate the cultural politics of pluralism” by examining more closely “the dynamics of oppressive power and of popular resistance to it.
  • Garrett’s approach to American music falls comfortably within existing theories of cultural resistance which have theorized about the relationship of cultural production to power, human agency, and resistance.

Crawford seems to consider Blackface Minstrelsy as a form of cultural resistance:

  •  “On another, white minstrels learned that blacking up freed them to behave onstage in ways that polite society found uncivilized.”
  • “They could also comment critically not just on black-white relations but on society in general: on politics, culture, and social class. (Crawford 2001: 124)

At the same time, Crawford points out that Blackface Minstrels were catering to popular notions of African American cultural and social behavior:

  • “On one level, the black mask enabled white stage minstrels to amuse audiences by imitating black ways of talking, moving, dancing, laughing singing, and playing musical instruments.”


Form your own opinion about this argument whether or not Blackface should be considered as a form of cultural resistance, based upon your knowledge of Cultural Hegemony. Were these working-class white minstrels resisting the prevailing classes, or were they part of the Hegemonic Euro-American class simply because they were white? Keep in mind that most of these working class minstrels were from minority groups that were looked down upon by the English (i.e./ Irish, Jewish, lower class English endentured servants).

What role did later songs such as Stephen Foster’s De Camptown Races and Old Folks at Home play in mediating the gap between minstrelsy’s agenda and audience expectations?

What social and political elements served to permanently alter the trajectory of Blackface Minstrelsy as a form of cultural resistance between 1843 and 1850? (Crawford: 132)What were some of the further changes that occurred by the mid-1850s? (Crawford: 122)

Harriet Beecher Rowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published in 1852. Rowe stated that in her work she tried, “to awaken sympathy and feeling for the African race . . . under a system so necessarily cruel and unjust.” Although it was banned as subversive literature in some parts of the South, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was hugely successful in the North. What was the response of The Christy and Wood Minstrels’ and ex-Virginia Minstrel, Frank Bower to Uncle Toms’s Cabin in 1854? Which would you consider to be a better example of cultural resistance, Beech’s book or the minstrel response? (see reading as a pdf. in Cavas “Files” folder)

Try to answer as many of the above questions as possible as you compose your focus paper.

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