Time: January 26, 2015 at 4:30pm to May 8, 2015 at 7pm
Location: Loeb Music Library, Music Building
Street: North Yard, Harvard University
City/Town: Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Website or Map: http://music.fas.harvard.edu/…
Event Type: symposium/exhibition
Organized By: Students from the seminar “Blackface Minstrelsy in 19th Century America,” taught by Oja and Parler during the fall semester
Latest Activity: Jan 29, 2015
The Harvard Music Department announces a new library exhibit, Unmasking Jim Crow: Blackface Minstrelsy in American Popular Culture, examining the painful racist history and complex legacy of blackface performance in American culture. The exhibit will be on display January 26 through May 8, 2015 on the second floor of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. Included in the exhibit are images, sheet music, songsters, and other minstrel show artifacts from the Harvard Theater Collection, which houses one of the most important collections of 19th century minstrelsy materials in the world.
An opening symposium will launch the exhibit on January 26, 2015 at 4:30 PM in the Spalding Room of the Music Library. Carol J. Oja, William Powell Mason Professor of Music and Samuel Parler, Ph.D. Candidate in Music, will offer introductory remarks, followed by a keynote address from Louis Chude-Sokei, Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington and author of The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2006). The symposium will conclude with a performance by Rhiannon Giddens, banjoist and singer of the Grammy Award-winning folk trio The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Both the symposium and exhibit are free and open to the public.
The exhibit is curated by students from the seminar “Blackface Minstrelsy in 19th Century America,” taught by Oja and Parler during the fall semester. The artifacts of 19th-century minstrelsy include materials with toxic racial images and powerful, culturally ingrained musical texts. The historical impact of both the images and the music has been huge, and the goal of this project has been to engage students in a conversation about this important aspect of American racial history. The materials displayed document minstrelsy’s wide geographic and chronological span. Topics include the careers of composer-performers Thomas Dartmouth Rice (of European-American heritage) and James Bland (of African-American heritage); minstrel performance in America’s western frontier; black perspectives on blackface; and minstrelsy’s legacy in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The exhibit is supported by grants from the Elson Family Arts Initiative Fund and the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities.