Theatre Arts 240


Blackface, Yellowface, Redface, Jewface:

Theatrical Representations of “Others.”

Professor Mazer

Spring 2012


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-2:30; and by appointment


January 12:  Introduction


January 17:  Early Modern Othering:

Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta (downloadable as html text on Blackboard)


January 19:  William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (choose your own text).


January 24:  Shakespeare, Othello (choose your own text); Ben Jonson, The Masque of Queens (bulkpack); Kim F. Hall, “Sexual Politics and Cultural Identity in The Masque of Blackness” (bulkpack).


January 26:  Old World/New World:

Thomas Southerne, Oroonoko (Blackboard); Joseph R. Roach, “Introduction:  History, Memory, and Performance,” from Cities of the Dead:  Circum-Atlantic Performance (bulkpack).


January 31:  Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Pizarro (Blackboard).


February 2:  Race, America, Romanticism, and Melodrama:

John Augustus Stone, Metamora, or the Last of the Wampanoags (bulkpack); Jeffrey D. Mason, “Metamora and the ‘Indian’ Question,” in Melodrama and the Myth of America (bulkpack).


February 7:  The African Company and Ira Aldridge:

Errol Hill, “Shakespeare and the Black Actor” (partial), and “Involuntary Exiles” (partial), from Shakespeare in Sable:  A History of Black Shakespearean Actors (bulkpack); Tracy C. Davis, “Acting Black, 1824: Charles Mathews's Trip to America (Blackboard).


February 9:  George Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin (in Jeffrey Richards, Early American Drama); Jeffrey D. Mason, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Politics of Race,” in Melodrama and the Myth of America (bulkpack).


[Required theatregoing:  Theatre Arts program, workshop presentation of Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight:  Los Angeles.]


February 14:  Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon (in Richards); Joseph R. Roach, “Slave Spectacles and Tragic Octoroons:  A Cultural Genealogy of Antebellum Performance” (Blackboard); Harley Erdman, “Caught in the ‘Eye of the Eternal’:  Justice, Race, and the Camera, from The Octoroon to Rodney King,  (Blackboard).


February 16:  Mintrelsy:

Eric Lott, “Love and Theft:  The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrelsy,” (Blackboard).


February 21:  Minstrelsy (continued):

Minstrel sketches:  “Oh, Hush! or, The Virginny Cupids,” “Desdemonum,” “Othello,” and “Shylock” (bulkpack).


February 23:  Wild West Shows:

John G. Blair, “Blackface Minstrels and Buffalo Bill's Wild West: Nineteenth-Century Entertainment Forms as Cultural Exports,” in John Dean and Jean-Paul Gabilliet, eds., European Readings of American Popular Culture (bulkpack); Rosemary K. Bank, “Representing History:  Performing the Columbian Exposition,” Theatre Journal 54 (2002) 589-606 (Blackboard).


February 28: Victorian Japonaiserie:

W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan, The Mikado (Blackboard); (Recording on reserve in the Ormandy Listening Room); Josephine Lee, “Meditations on The Mikado” and “My Objects all Sublime,” from The Japan of Pure Invention:  Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado (Blackboard).


[Approximate due date:  first take-home assignment]


March 1:  Jewface:

Harley Erdman, “Making the Jewish Villain Visible:  American Approaches to Shylocks and Sheenies,” and “Taming the Exotic Jewess:  The Rise and Fall of the ‘Belle Juive,’” from Staging the Jew:  The Performance of an American Ethnicity 1860-1920 (bulkpack).


[Spring Break]


March 13:  Black and Jewish Blackface:

Camille F. Forbes, “Dancing with ‘Racial Feet’:  Bert Williams and the Performance of Blackness,” (Blackboard); Samson Raphaelson, The Jazz Singer (Blackboard); The Jazz Singer (1927; DVD on reserve in Rosengarten).


March 15:  Race and Theatrical Modernism:

Eugene O’Neill, The Emperor Jones; The Emperor Jones (DVD on reserve in Rosengarten).  (Make sure your read the play before you see the film version.)


March 20:  Race, History, and Show Business:

Listen to EMI recording of  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, Showboat (On reserve in the Ormandy Listening Room); film version (1936; DVD on reserve in Rosengarten.)  Scott McMillan, “Paul Robeson, Will Vodery’s ‘Jubilee Singers,’ and the Earliest Script of the Kern-Hammerstein  Showboat” (Blackboard).


March 22:  Broadway orientalism:

Josephine Lee, “‘And Others of His Race’:  Blackface and Yellowface,” from The Japan of Pure Invention (Blackboard); Bruce McConachie, “The ‘Oriental’ Musicals of Rogers and Hammerstein and the U.S. War in Southeast Asia,  (Blackboard); film version of Flower Drum Song (1961; DVD on reserve in Rosengarten).


[Approximate due date:  second take-home assignment]


March 27:  Non-Traditional Casting:

Angela Pao, “Recasting Race: Casting Practices and Racial Formations” (Blackboard);  Articles from the New York Times about the Miss Saigon casting controversy (Blackboard:  read in chronological order).


March 29:  The Wilson/Brustein Debates:

August Wilson, “The Ground On Which I Stand,” American Theatre,  September, 1996 (bulkpack); Robert Brustein, “Subsidized Separatism,” American Theatre, October, 1996.   Stephen Nunns, “Wilson, Brustein, and The Press,” American Theatre,  March, 1997 (bulkpack); “Beyond the Wilson-Brustein Debates,” Theatre 27:2-3 (1997), pp. 5-41 (bulkpack)


April 3:  Performing Identities:

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight:  Los Angeles; film version (on reserve in Rosengarten); “Anna Deavere Smith:  the Word Becomes You,” an interview by Carol Martin (Blackboard); Debby Thompson, “‘Is Race a Trope?’:  Anna Deavere Smith and the Question of Racial Performativity,” (Blackboard).


April 5:  Postmodern Blackface:  The Wooster Group:

Aoife Monks, “Genuine Negroes and Real Bloodhounds”:  Cross-Dressing, Eugene O'Neill, the Wooster Group, and The Emperor Jones,” (Blackboard); David Salle and Sarah French, “Kate Valk,” BOMB Magazine, Issue 100, Summer 2007 (at; link on Blackboard).


April 10:  Redressing Yellowface:

David Henry Hwang, Yellow Face and Flower Drum Song.


April 12:  “Colorblind” Shakespeare:

Ayanna Thompson, “Practicing a Theory/Theorizing a Practice:  An Introduction to Shakespearean Colorblind Casting,” and Peter Erickson, “Afterword:  the Blind Site of  Colorblind Casting,” in Ayanna Thompson, ed., Colorblind Shakespeare:  New Perspectives on Race and Performance (bulkpack).


April 17,19:  Individual reports on “non-traditional,” “colorblind,” multi-ethnic, and/or racially coded Shakespeare productions, e.g. .


April 24  Catch-up and conclusions.


There will be TWO take-home essay assignments, ONE in-class presentation (on April 17 and 19), plus ONE final research project, due at a date to be announced, on a topic that must MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE.  Attendance in class is crucial; CHRONIC ABSENCE OR LATENESS WILL BE COUNTED AGAINST YOU.


The following books can be purchased at the Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom Sts.:

Jeffrey Richards, Early American Drama

Eugene O’Neill, Four Plays

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight:  Los Angeles

David Henry Hwang, Flower Drum Song

David Henry Hwang, Yellowface


The bulkpack can be purchased at the Campus Copy Center, 39th and Walnut.


The listserv for this course is  Several electronic scripts and articles are available on the Blackboard website, to which you have been automatically subscribed.


The syllabus for this course is available at