Black Performance Theory
Recent Publications by Group Participants
A Sourcebook of African-American Performance: Plays, People, Movements (Worlds of Performance)
New York: Routledge, 1999
A Sourcebook on African-American Performance: Plays, People, Movements is the first volume to consider African-American performance between and beyond the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and the New Black Renaissance of the 1990s. Amazon.com book link This book is also available for purchase in a digital format for Microsoft Reader here.
Jennifer Devere Brody
Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity, and Victorian Culture
Duke University Press, 1998
Using black feminist theory and African American studies to read Victorian culture, this volume looks at the construction of "Englishness" as white, masculine, and pure and "Americanness" as black, feminine, and impure. Brody's readings of Victorian novels, plays, paintings, and science fiction reveal the impossibility of purity and the inevitability of hybridity in representations of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and race. She amasses a considerable amount of evidence to show that Victorian culture was bound inextricably to various forms and figures of blackness.
Opening with a reading of Daniel Defoe's "A True-Born Englishman", which posits the mixed origins of English identity, Brody goes on to analyze mulattas typified by Rhoda Swartz in William Thackeray's "Vanity Fair", whose mixed-race status reveals the "unseemly origins of English imperial power". Examining Victorian stage productions from blackface minstrel shows to performances of "The Octoroom" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin", she explains how such productions depended upon feminised, "black" figures in order to reproduce Englishmen as masculine white subjects. She also discusses H.G. Wells's "The Island of Dr Moreau" in the context of debates about the "new woman", slavery, and fears of the monstrous degeneration of English gentleman. "Impossible purities" concludes with a discussion of Bram Stoker's novella, "The Lair of the White Worm", which brings together the book's concerns with changing racial representations on both sides of the Atlantic.Amazon.com link
Thomas F. DeFrantz
African American Dance - Philosophy, Aesthetics, and “Beauty”
TOPOI Vol. 24., No. 1, January, 2005, pp 93-102.
Aesthetics in dance, and especially the terms of “beauty” as they might relate to African American artistry, remain extremely difficult to discuss. How can aesthetic theory be engaged in relation to African American dance practice? What sorts of aesthetic imperatives surround African American dance and how does black performance make sense of these imperatives?” Who names the quality of performance, or who determines that a performance may be accurately recognized as “black? More than this, how can African American dance participate on its own terms in a discourse of “beauty?”
This essay offers portions of my current research project to consider the recuperation of “beauty” as a productive critical strategy in discussions of African American dance. I argue that black performance in general, and African American concert dance in particular, seek to create aesthetic sites that allow black Americans to participate in discourses of recognition and appreciation to include concepts of “beauty.” In this, I suggest that “beauty” may indeed produce social change for its attendant audiences. I also propose that interrogating the notion of “beauty” may allow for social change among audiences that include dance theorists and philosophers. Through a case-study consideration of work by three African American choreographers, Donald Byrd (b. 1949), Ulysses Dove (1947- 1996), and Abdel Salaam (b. 1949), I ultimately hope to suggest critical possibilities aligning dance performance with particular aesthetic theory relevant to its documentation and interpretation. Full Article
· Thomas F. DeFrantz and Anita Gonzalez, editors. Black Performance Theory: An Anthology of Critical Readings. Duke University Press, in process.
· Gonzalez, Anita. Afro-Mexico: Dancing Between Myth and Reality. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-292-72324-5.
· Gonzalez, Anita. Jarocho’s Soul: Cultural Identity and Afro-Mexican Dance. Lanham: University Press of America (Roman and Littlefield), 2004. ISBN # 0-7618-2775-7.
· Gonzalez, Anita. “Tactile and Vocal Communities in Urban Bush Women’s Shelter and Praise House,” The Community Performance Reader edited by Petra Kuppers and Gwen Robertson. New York: Routledge, 2007. ISBN # 978-0415392310
· Gonzalez, Anita: “Diversifying African American Drama,” Theatre Topics, 19:1 (March 2009), 59-66.
· Gonzalez, Anita: “Indigenous Acts: Black and Native Performances in Mexico,” Radical History Review, Issue 103 (Winter 2009) 131-141.
· Cox, Aimee Meredith, with Tiye Giraud, Anita Gonzalez, Petra Kuppers, and Carrie Sandahl. “Anarcha Anti-Archive,” Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 4.2 (2008) url: http://liminalities.net/4-2/anarcha
Richard C. Green III
Soul Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure