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Katie Johnson
Miami University, Oxford (Oxford, OH 45056-1602)
Racing the Great White Way: A Counter History of Early 20th-Century Broadway

Research and writing leading to a book about interracial collaboration in theater in New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, with analysis of performances staged on Broadway, in Harlem, in Greenwich, and in films.

I seek an NEH Summer Stipend to complete my third book, a monograph that charts a fresh account of one of the most vital moments of U.S. culture. Racing the Great White Way: a Counter History of 20th-Century Broadway shows that during a time when U.S. culture was profoundly segregated, the theatre was a site of interracial collaboration. Diverse theatre artists were integrating not only theatrical spaces, but also shaping aesthetics and cultural discourse. The project steers the reader away from the glistening lights of Broadway toward sparse performance spaces in the Village or the basement of the Public Library on 135th Street. Broadway and its adjacent spaces were not only major producers of theatre but also crucial architects of cultural work during the 1920s and 1930s. The central claim of the book is that by racing beyond Broadway, we discover not only a rich history of diverse theatrical performances, but also a powerful archive of U.S. culture transitioning to modernity.

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

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/26/2020 – 8/24/2020