Not Just Clowning Around: Blackface Yesterday and Today

deadline for submissions: 
June 10, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
PAMLA November 14-17, 2019
contact email: 

As recent events in Virginia demonstrated, blackface minstrelsy is far from being a thing of the past. Despite its taboo status and overtly racist underpinnings, blackface continues to happen. In his seminal work on the phenomenon, Eric Lott argued that early blackface minstrelsy emerged out of the “intersection of slave culture and earlier blackface stage characters such as the…clown of English pantomime and the clown of the American circus.” What might this lineage tell us about the ongoing prevalence and relevance of blackface? This session invites proposals that consider and examine modern and past manifestations of blackface minstrelsy, its legacies, and its influence. Please submit an abstract of 300-500 words by June 10, 2019, via