Feb. 22, 2019 — Aurore Spiers

Please join us on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 11:00 AM in Cobb 311 for the third meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop for the Winter Quarter. We are delighted to have Aurore Spiers, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her presentation is entitled, “Blackface Performance(s) in Edgar Arceneaux’s Until, Until, Until… (2015).” Prof. Allyson Field will serve as respondent.

Aurore’s chapter is available for download here.

Please do not circulate without permission.

Please email either Gary [gkafer@uchicago.edu] or Cooper [cooperlong@uchicago.edu] for the password.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you!

Yours in Mass Cult,
Gary and Cooper

Blackface Performance(s) in Edgar Arceneaux’s Until, Until, Until… (2015)

This paper examines the uses of blackface in Edgar Arceneaux’s multimedia work titled Until, Until, Until… (2015). Until, Until, Until… was performed as a live play in 2015 in New York and in 2017 in Los Angeles, where it also lived as a video installation in an exhibit about the traumatic history of African American displacement and erasure in the United States. It features African American stage actor Frank Lawson playing Ben Vereen playing Bert Williams at Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural ball on January 19, 1981. Reagan’s “All-Star Inaugural Gala” was broadcast on ABC with delay, which allowed for the producers to edit out the second part of Vereen’s blackface act for television. Many viewers at home found that the first part, which they thought was the whole act, did not do justice to Williams’s genius and that it merely replicated traditional stereotypes of African Americans through the use of blackface. By showing Vereen’s complete act for the first time in over twenty years in Until, Until, Until…, Arceneaux reflects on past and contemporary Black performance, representation, and reception with Lawson playing Vereen playing Williams in blackface.

Aurore Spiers is a PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation examines the reception history of early French comedy in France and the United States from 1906 through the 1920s. Since 2013, she has worked on the Women Film Pioneers Project edited by Jane Gaines and Kate Saccone and dedicated to women’s work behind the camera during the silent era.

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