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Paige A. McGinley
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO 63130-4899)
Rehearsing Civil Rights: Practicing the Law, 1938-1965

A book-length study of the relationship of theater, performance, and the law during the civil rights movement.

Rehearsing Civil Rights explores performances of the law that were ubiquitous in the middle decades of the twentieth century. During this period, activists strategically tested de jure and de facto segregation at sit-ins; black lawyers performed both legal authority and legal subjectivity as they argued cases in the highest courts of the land; and artists such as James Baldwin wrote plays that explored nonviolent resistance and the category of the legal subject. This book brings the work of these activists, lawyers, and artists together under a common umbrella to explore the relationship between performance and the law from the dawn of the Popular Front (1934) to the close of the classical phase of the civil rights movement (1965). In its consideration of performances both on and off stage, this book emphasizes the contestation of legal segregation as a fundamentally embodied act as well as the significance of the law as it was lived, rather than as it was written.

Project fields:
African American History; American Studies; Theater History and Criticism

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017