Expressionlessness and Affective Materiality
(The Black Blackface Edition)
Black minstrel performances are often dismissed as unfortunate occurrences in the history of African American self-representation—and not without some reason. Their performers are generally assumed to have stepped (tragically, or greedily) into the minstrel form without significantly disrupting its racist tropes. Yet an attention to the obvious excess of burnt cork on an already “black” face suggests a far more complex representation of blackness, especially when these minstrels shared the stage with uncorked black performers. In this talk, I consider the ways in which blackface acts as a form of masking in the theatrical pairing of Williams and Walker, transfiguring the affects and meanings of blackness through a play of surfaces.
**Join us Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. in room 202 of 220 York. A light, catered lunch will be provided.**
Tina Post is a doctoral student in Yale’s African American and American studies programs. Her work explores black expressionlessness as an aesthetic and performative gesture. She previously earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage and has published literary essays in The Appendix and Stone Canoe.