Making scenes: Transnational politics in performance, 1890-1939.

Aid, Katherine author.
[Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] : University of Pennsylvania ; Ann Arbor, MI : ProQuest, 2014.
1 online resource (350 pages)
Local subjects:
Literature, Comparative.
Gender Studies.
Black Studies.
Comparative Literature and Literary Theory -- Penn dissertations.
Penn dissertations -- Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Making Scenes explores the function of analogy and cross-group identification at points where early identity-politics movements intersect with popular performance. This dissertation reads queer, francophone, and African-American literature and journalism dating from 1890 to 1939 to reveal how authors engaged in theorizing racial, gender, and sexual equality deploy images of popular performance. In this period, political programs demanding uplift, equal citizenship, suffrage, and social dignity push back against entertainment genres that traffic in exploitative stereotypes of women, black Americans, colonized subjects, and people of non-normative genders and sexualities. In response, marginalized groups justify their claims to civic and national inclusion by strategically managing their representation in popular performance.
On the one hand, performance commanded broad public recognition; on the other, to be associated with music or theatricality meant facing the dismissive diagnosis of marginalized people as too physical, too visible, and too loud--in short, too spectacular--to do 'serious' political work. For this reason, scenes representing spirituals, "African villages" in colonial expositions, ragtime dances, "Amazon ballets," and touring jazz bands bear significant political weight in texts from the fin-de-siecle through the interwar years. I argue that these texts depict popular performance in order to compare emerging identities like the New Negro, the homosexual, and the feminist to stereotypes of "naturally performative" blackness, queerness, and femininity--with the goal of defining and delimiting the category of the deserving citizen.
I trace intersecting mechanisms of popular and political representation in Jessie Redmon Fauset's There Is Confusion, Suzanne Lacascade's Claire-Solange, Ame africaine, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, Nella Larsen's Quicksand, Ousmane Soce's Mirages de Paris, and French and American texts representing West African "Amazon" soldiers during the 1890s Franco-Dahomean colonial wars. While mapping a cultural history of popular performance in modern transatlantic writing, this project also foregrounds and explicates the affective mechanics of analogy and identification--the spectator function of feeling like a marginalized subject whose experience is mediated through performance. Drawing on queer and postcolonial theory, as well as critical studies of race, I argue for a nuanced interpretation of cross-identity appropriation and solidarity among "low transatlantic modern" liberation movements.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 75-10(E), Section: A.
Advisers: Lydie E. Moudileno; Heather K. Love.
Department: Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.
Thesis Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania 2014.
Local notes:
School code: 0175.
Love, Heather K., degree supervisor.
Moudileno, Lydie E., degree supervisor.
University of Pennsylvania. Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.
Contained In:
Dissertation Abstracts International 75-10A(E).
Access Restriction:
Restricted for use by site license.
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