Street Scenes : Staging the Self in Immigrant New York, 1880-1924

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-11-04
  • Publisher: Univ of Minnesota Pr
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The turn of the twentieth century in New York City was characterized by radical transformation as the advent of consumer capitalism confronted established social hierarchies, culture, and conceptions of selfhood. The popular stage existed in a symbiotic relationship with the city and uniquely captured the contested terms of immigrant identity of the time.Street Scenesfocuses on the intersection of modern city life and stage performance. From street life and slumming to vaudeville and early cinema, to Yiddish theater and blackface comedy, Esther Romeyn discloses racial comedy, passing, and masquerade as gestures of cultural translation. In these performances she detects an obsession with the idea of the city as theater and the self as actor, which was fueled by the challenges that consumer capitalism presented to notions of an "authentic" self. It was exactly this idea of "authentic" immigrant selfhood that was at stake in many performances on the popular stage, and Romeyn ultimately demonstrates how these diverse and potent immigrant works influenced the emergence of a modern metropolitan culture.

Author Biography

Esther Romeyn is assistant scholar at the Center for European Studies at the University of Florida

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
The City as Theater Performativity and Urban Space
The Epistemology of the Cityp. 3
Detecting, Acting, and the Hierarchy of the Social Bodyp. 27
Crossing the Bowery: Female Slumming and the Theater of Urban Spacep. 53
Eros and Americanization: The Rise of David Levinsky, or the Etiquette of Race and Sexp. 81
Stages of Identity Performing Ethnic Subjects
Juggling Identities: The Case of an Italian American Clownp. 101
My Other/My Self: Impersonation and the Rehearsal of Othernessp. 125
The Truth of Racial Signs: Civilizing the Jewish Comicp. 159
Blackface, Jewface, Whiteface: Racial Impersonation Revisitedp. 187
Notesp. 213
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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