But the Crowd was not Satisfied: Blackface Minstrelsy and Lynching as Fandoms of the Remediated Black Body




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But the Crowd was not Satisfied argues that the black body is a remediated textual object, which has inspired the creation of two attendant fandoms: blackface minstrelsy and lynching. Since slavery, images of the black body have been used to cohere together a collective white national identity. Depictions of the black body in blackface minstrelsy performances, lynching artifacts, film, television, and most recently digital culture have signified the black body as an object of pleasure, violence, chaos, and labor—each of which encodes a message of white superiority. And while much necessary work has been done that investigates the role of American culture industries on the images of the black body, this dissertation intertwines fan studies scholarship, critical race theory, film studies and media studies to examine the history of the white spectator of the black body who both consumes these representations, and creates new ones that are even more harmful.
In the first chapter, I analyze the intellectual history of fan studies from its intellectual antecedents to its present day motivations. I illustrate how both the fan, as an idea, and its study have and continue to center whiteness. In the second chapter, I take aim at the historical and continuing legacy of the image of the blackface minstrel body. I argue that this fandom has constructed one of the most persistent ways of seeing blackness since its origination in the 1830s. The third chapter builds off the second in that it argues that the lynching fandom that emerged in the 1870s was a response to the decline of blackface minstrelsy. I also argue that the lynchings and the objects that stem from lynchings (postcards, photographs, body parts as memorabilia) cohered together a white supremacist identity that then manifested in other forms of mediated objects. Chapter four analyzes those other mediated objects. I argue that the logic of lynching infiltrated American popular culture mediums such as film and the digital, allowing for the lynching fandom to be active and ongoing in today’s contemporary Internet culture.



Blacks—Race identity, Blackface entertainers, Minstrel music, Minstrel shows, Lynching, Fans (Persons), Film criticism, Motion pictures—History, Blacks in popular culture, Participatory theater, Mass media and culture, Blacks in mass media



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