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Show BoatPerforming Race in an American Musical$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759378.001.0001

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Magnolia’s Black Voice

(p.1) Introduction
Show Boat

Todd Decker

Oxford University Press

The defining aspect of Edna Ferber's heroine Magnolia in the 1926 novel Show Boat was the phenomenon of a white girl singing with a black voice. The introduction locates Ferber's narrative within the history of American popular music and culture and lays out the scope of this study of Show Boat on the musical stage and screen in the twentieth century. Show Boat's place in the separately-written histories of the black-cast and white-cast musical is also assessed, on the way to situating the show at the intersection of racial performance in the American musical. The book's reliance on archival research is put into historiographical perspective.

Keywords:   Edna Ferber, whiteness, minstrelsy, Negro spirituals

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