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Grant number like: FB-55171-10

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Elizabeth Muther
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME 04011-8447)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$46,200 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2010 – 5/31/2011

Resistance by Design: African American Insurgency in Word and Image

I am seeking NEH support to complete a book on strategies African American writers and artists have deployed since the 1920s to contest the social injustices reflected in resilient forms of cultural caricature. While the project takes as its point of departure the blackface comics in features syndication during the 1920s, it is not limited to such literal correlatives to the stage characters. The book rather concerns the haunting "comedy" of the black subject just at the period when the minstrel figure leaves the stage and becomes a mobile, shape-shifting specter in radio shows, films, cartoons, advertising, and other barely disguised embodiments. The project explores the expressive instruments and forms African American artists and writers have used to undermine and defy the authority of these images and allegories, focusing especially on the minstrel mask, comics, photography, silhouettes, collage forms, and quilting.