Slavery and Sentiment on the American Stage, 1787–1861
For almost a hundred years before Uncle Tom's Cabin burst on to the scene in 1852, the American theatre struggled to represent the evils of slavery. First published in 2009, Slavery and Sentiment questions how the text, images, and performances presented to American audiences during the antebellum period engaged with the debate over black participation in American society. The book reconsiders traditional comic stereotypes like Jim Crow, as well as familiar sentimental ones, such as Uncle Tom. Using plays, poetry, performances, popular novels, and political cartoons, Heather Nathans blends American history, theatre history, and literary history to question how theatre and performance lifted the 'veil of black' on American racism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The book contributes to the ongoing discussion of the role of African-American characters and performers in American cultural history, offering scholars in a range of fields a new perspective on a complicated moment in the nation's theatrical past.