Here’s the plan for next week:
On Tuesday, for the first hour,we will be talking about the European phenomenon of enslaving Africans, but also of putting Africans (and other non-Europeans) on display. I’ll be drawing on Strausbaugh’s book — from which I gave you an excerpt — but also from a few others, including The Black Culture Industry by Ellis Cashmore, Where Dead Voices Gather by Nick Tosches, The Wages of Whiteness by David R. Roediger, and The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas. Controversial or not, I recommend all those books for a deeper understanding of what we’re talking about. (And about which I, too, am still learning.)
And to link this (directly!) to contemporary Korea — a Youtube video by a very angry man. The question is — do you think he has a right to be angry?:
In our second hour on Tuesday, we will be talking about Andy Duncan’s story “Beluthahatchie.” I’ll be uploading a scan of Duncan’s comments about the story, so please check back. By the way, here’s the cover image of that book, which I tried to show you in class. As the guy on that webpage comments, it’s “one hell of a train” — har, har. I expect a lot of questions, ideas, and participation. In the meantime, you might find it helpful to read about this guy.On Thursday, we’re going to talk about the chapter from the Strausbaugh book that I gave you to read. Be prepared to discuss, as this is intended as a class discussion, and not a lecture. (I will have some questions for you, as well as some media I’d like to show you, maybe, but the bulk of the classtime will be yours to talk through. I’ll try to intervene only to steer the conversation, clear up any misconceptions, and clarify things.) Just a thought: it would be a good idea to prepare a paper for the discussion, listing any questions, or ideas, or problems you had with the text, to help you participate in the discussion. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on the subject of blackface minstrelsy. Bonus points for those who can find a way to link it to popular Korean entertainment today.
(Before you get too mad about the latter clips, remember: these are User Created Content clips on the Internet, not major media entertainment. Also. it might be useful to think carefully about who it is being mocked in each of those videos and pages I’ve linked: is it a whole race, or a group within it? Do you think the racist images or stereotypes intelligible, even if you are offended by them — I mean, do you think the mockery involves offensive exaggeration and generalization, or the wholesale manufacture of traits?)
How you might feel about the whole set of the videos above — those depicting Koreans, and those from the Korean media too — needs to be part of the question of what is going on in cross-racial mockery, appropriation, and imitation… which is at the heart of our discussion of the genesis of American popular culture.
Finally, looking ahead, next week we’ll be discussing blackface minstrelsy more, after watching the Spike Lee film Bamboozled.