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Jump Jim Crow: Lost Plays, Lyrics, and Street Prose of the First Atlantic Popular Culture written by W. T. Lhamon Jr.

 

Jump Jim Crow: Lost Plays, Lyrics, and Street Prose of the First Atlantic Popular Culture written by W. T. Lhamon Jr.

Overview:

Beginning in the 1830s, the white actor Thomas D. Rice took to the stage as Jim Crow, and the ragged and charismatic trickster of black folklore entered—and forever transformed—American popular culture. Jump Jim Crow brings together for the first time the plays and songs performed in this guise and reveals how these texts code the complex use and abuse of blackness that has characterized American culture ever since Jim Crow's first appearance.

Along with the prompt scripts of nine plays performed by Rice—never before published as their original audiences saw them—W. T. Lhamon Jr. provides a reconstruction of their performance history and a provocative analysis of their contemporary meaning. His reading shows us how these plays built a public blackness, but also how they engaged a disaffected white audience, who found in Jim Crow's sass and wit and madcap dancing an expression of rebellion and resistance against the oppression and confinement suffered by ordinary people of all colors in antebellum America and early Victorian England.

Upstaging conventional stories and forms, giving direction and expression to the unruly attitudes of a burgeoning underclass, the plays in this anthology enact a vital force still felt in great fictions, movies, and musics of the Atlantic and in the jumping, speedy styles that join all these forms.

Synopsis:

Beginning in the 1830s, the white actor Thomas D. Rice took to the stage as Jim Crow, and the ragged and charismatic trickster of black folklore entered—and forever transformed—American popular culture. Jump Jim Crow brings together for the first time the plays and songs performed in this guise and reveals how these texts code the complex use and abuse of blackness that has characterized American culture ever since Jim Crow's first appearance.

Along with the prompt scripts of nine plays performed by Rice—never before published as their original audiences saw them—W. T. Lhamon Jr. provides a reconstruction of their performance history and a provocative analysis of their contemporary meaning. His reading shows us how these plays built a public blackness, but also how they engaged a disaffected white audience, who found in Jim Crow's sass and wit and madcap dancing an expression of rebellion and resistance against the oppression and confinement suffered by ordinary people of all colors in antebellum America and early Victorian England.

Upstaging conventional stories and forms, giving direction and expression to the unruly attitudes of a burgeoning underclass, the plays in this anthology enact a vital force still felt in great fictions, movies, and musics of the Atlantic and in the jumping, speedy styles that join all these forms.

D. B. Wilmeth - Choice

Lhamon provides a superb follow-up to his outstanding Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop. This study focuses on the character of Jim Crow (a 'cultural collage') as evolved largely by actor Tomas D. Rice (1806-1860), before the meaning of the name became chiseled in stone...At the heart of the book are expertly and thoroughly edited texts of thirteen songs, nine plays (including the never-published Otello), and two street prose versions of Jim Crow's life. These, along with illustrations and a perceptive, many-layered, and lengthy analytical introduction, make for the most complete offering of primary sources and criticism available to lead readers toward an understanding of these complex texts, their coding, and the controversial figure of Jim Crow.

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Title: Jump Jim Crow: Lost Plays, Lyrics, and Street Prose of the First Atlantic Popular Culture

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