Blackface Broken Records: On the Eve of the Blues Feminist Experiment

  • Thursday, January 30, 2020 • 4:00 pm
  • Hillman Hall, Clark-Fox Forum, Hillman Hall

This talk threads together an exploration of women in blackface minstrelsy, race riots of the Progressive Era, the classic black women’s blues craze and the origins of one of the world’s most famous musicals. In particular, it questions the ways that African Americans navigated an early 20th-century popular culture that policed and restricted their sounds. Ultimately, it asserts that the struggle over radicalized sound in the 1910s was a battle waged between women artists — black and white, in the north and in the south, and on the eve of a blues music revolution.

About the keynote speaker

Daphne A. Brooks is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP), winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR, and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005). Brooks is currently working on a three-volume study of black women and popular music culture entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity. The first volume in the trilogy, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Archive, the Critic, and Black Women’s Sound Cultures, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

Brooks is currently editing an anthology of essays forthcoming from Duke University Press and culled from Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince, a four-day international conference and concert event held at Yale University that she curated.


William Acree, Associate Professor of Spanish, American Culture Studies (Affiliate) and Performing Arts (Affiliate), Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity.

Staging Frontiers: The Making of Modern Popular Culture in Argentina and Uruguay




Jonathan Fenderson, Assistant Professor of African and African-American Studies

Building the Black Arts Movement: Hoyt Fuller and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s


12 pm | Olin Library, Room 142
Lunch provided
Please RSVP to attend the lunch:

Resistance Acts

Faculty Book Celebration keynote speaker Daphne Brooks with Patrick Burke, associate professor of music; Miguel Valerio, assistant professor of Spanish; and Rhaisa Williams, assistant professor of performing arts, all at Washington University.

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