Gender Trumps Race?
Cross‐Dressing Juba in Early Blackface Minstrelsy
Stephen Johnson focuses on the interlacing gender and racial implications of a moment of cross‐dressing in the career of the black minstrel performer William Henry Lane, known as “Juba.” Surrounded by white men in blackface singing “Lucy Long” on an 1848 tour of England by the Ethiopian Serenaders, Lane must have presented an unusual challenge to the British middle classes. Working from descriptions of Juba by journalists of the time, including Charles Dickens, and calling on theories of cross‐dressing by Marjorie Garber and of minstrelsy by Eric Lott and W. T. Lhamon, Johnson considers this particularly dexterous “wench dance” as a possibly confusing and distracting performance that could have displaced for the moment prevailing prejudices against color.
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