Early African American Performance
This course explores the history of early African American performance as an important factor in the emergence of the African American public sphere. The course begins with the opening of the African Company in 1821, the first African American theatre company in New York City and ends with the Negro Little Theatre Movement of the early twentieth century. Case studies include both theatrical and nontheatrical performances, such as preaching, protests, and museum exhibits. In trying to understand how black performance of the nineteenth and early twentieth century helped create a black public sphere, we will also be engaging with theories of the public sphere and critical race theories of performance.
Students are requested to begin reading Habermas’s Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere before the first class session. Ideally, you would have read through the book for our first meeting.