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Cork and Community: Postwar Blackface Minstrelsy in the Rural Midwest


Nearly a century-and-a-half after urban professional entertainers first attained instant popularity for music, dance, and humor performed in blackface, amateur minstrels in the rural Midwest continued to pack school auditoriums and smalltown theaters with their homespun variety. Blackening their hands and faces with storebought makeup (the modern equivalent of the burnt cork of the nineteenth century), farmers and schoolteachers sang spirited renditions of “There's Nothin Like a Minstrel Show” mechanics and school board members donned tutus in an exotic ballet burlesque; and a realtor with a rich baritone sang his version of “Mammy,” a perennial favorite.

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William J. Mahar , “Black English in Early Blackface Minstrelsy: A New Interpretation of the Sources of Minstrel Show Dialect.” American Quarterly 37 (2, Summer1985): 285

Theresa Jill Buckland , “Black Faces, Garlands, and Coconuts: Exotic Dances on Street and Stage.” Dance Research Journal 22, 2 (Fall1990): 2

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Theatre Survey
  • ISSN: 0040-5574
  • EISSN: 1475-4533
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-survey
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