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  • Cited by 3
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    PIERSON, MARCELLE 2016. Voice, Technē, and Jouissance in Music for 18 Musicians. Twentieth-Century Music, Vol. 13, Issue. 01, p. 25.

    COLE, ROSS 2014. ‘Sound Effects (O.K., Music)’: Steve Reich and the Visual Arts in New York City, 1966–1968. Twentieth-Century Music, Vol. 11, Issue. 02, p. 217.

    STANYEK, JASON 2014. Forum on Transcription. Twentieth-Century Music, Vol. 11, Issue. 01, p. 101.

  • Journal of the Society for American Music, Volume 5, Issue 2
  • May 2011, pp. 139-193

Reich in Blackface: Oh Dem Watermelons and Radical Minstrelsy in the 1960s

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 14 April 2011

This essay undertakes an examination of Steve Reich's music for Robert Nelson's film Oh Dem Watermelons (1965), which was originally conceived as part of the San Francisco Mime Troupe's controversial production A Minstrel Show, or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel of the same year. Reich's long-neglected soundtrack deserves reconsideration for its formative role in the development of the composer's musical style and quasi-liberationist aesthetic at the time, for its participation within what I term the “minstrel avant-garde” in the Bay Area during the mid-1960s and the postmodern revival of blackface minstrelsy more generally, and as a reference point in reflecting upon Reich's professional and political trajectory since its composition.

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André Breton . Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen Lane. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.

Kiene Brillenburg Wurth . Musically Sublime: Indeterminacy, Infinity, Irresolvability. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.

Joy Calico . Brecht at the Opera. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

Kirsten Lise Fermaglich . “‘The Comfortable Concentration Camp’: The Significance of Nazi Imagery in Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963).” American Jewish History 91/2 (June 2003): 205–32.

Sumanth Gopinath . “The Problem of the Political in Steve Reich's Come Out.” In Sound Commitments: Avant-Garde Music and the Sixties, ed. Robert Adlington , 121–44. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Fredric Jameson . “Cognitive Mapping.” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg , 347–57. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Michael Klein . “Chopin's Fourth Ballade as Musical Narrative.” Music Theory Spectrum 26/1 (Spring 2004): 2355.

George Lewis . “Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives.” Black Music Research Journal 16/1 (Spring 1996): 91122.

Susan Vaneta Mason , ed. The San Francisco Mime Troupe Reader. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Peter Nicholls . Modernisms: A Literary Guide. 2nd ed.London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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Journal of the Society for American Music
  • ISSN: 1752-1963
  • EISSN: 1752-1971
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-society-for-american-music
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