Modern European History, Gender and Race
Mary Louise Roberts
"Claude Cahun's Bodies: Real, Imaginary and Dangerous Frenchwomen."
Working Dissertation Title:
"Make-ing Up Race: Imperial networks of blackface minstrelsy and the construction of whiteness, 1850-1914"
My current research explores the transnational and imperial history of blackface minstrelsy, with particular emphasis on performances that originated and took place outside the United States. In tracing individual performers and troupes from urban and provincial Britain and France to India, Burma, South Africa and beyond, I ask how and why minstrelsy possessed an inherent malleability and ambivalence allowing it to house the desires, fears and concerns of diverse audiences, whilst simultaneously remaining a recognizable genre. This work is guided by my ongoing interest in the concurrent local, national and transnational construction of gender and race. Specifically, I focus on how the intersection of cultural and economic history elucidates the role of the commercial marketplace in generating such a multilayered construction of race and gender, and in concretizing these abstract concepts