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Grant number like: FEL-262037-19

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Josephine Lee
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN 55455-2009)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2019

Blackface and Yellowface: American Theater and Racial Performance

Research and writing of a book-length study on the relationship between yellowface and blackface acting and representation in 19th- and 20th-century American theater.

My proposed project is a book focusing on the figurative and literal intersections of yellowface and blackface acting and representation in nineteenth and twentieth-century American theater. This will examine how blackface and yellowface acts were performed side-by-side by white minstrels and in plays; the careers, preparation, and perspectives of actors who played both “black” and “oriental” characters; key productions in which African Americans performed in yellowface; and the adoption of and challenges to blackface by Asian Americans in drama and literature. My work highlights how American orientalism affected the production of both blackface minstrelsy and African American theater, and also addresses how Asian Americans have responded to these theatrical legacies. In looking at this history, I move scholarship on American theater beyond a white/nonwhite binary, and show how stage performance manifests the polycultural and dynamic nature of racial formation.