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Full-Text Articles in Social History

"Spectacular Opacities": The Hyers Sisters' Performances Of Respectability And Resistance, Jocelyn Buckner Jan 2012

"Spectacular Opacities": The Hyers Sisters' Performances Of Respectability And Resistance, Jocelyn Buckner

Theatre Faculty Articles and Research

This essay analyzes the Hyers Sisters, a Reconstruction-era African American sister act, and their radical efforts to transcend social limits of gender, class, and race in their early concert careers and three major productions, Out of Bondage and Peculiar Sam, or The Underground Railroad, two slavery-to-freedom epics, and Urlina, the African Princess, the first known African American play set in Africa. At a time when serious, realistic roles and romantic plotlines featuring black actors were nearly nonexistent due to the country’s appetite for stereotypical caricatures, the Hyers Sisters used gender passing to perform opposite one another as heterosexual lovers ...


The Angel And The Imp: The Duncan Sisters’ Performances Of Race And Gender, Jocelyn Buckner Jan 2011

The Angel And The Imp: The Duncan Sisters’ Performances Of Race And Gender, Jocelyn Buckner

Theatre Faculty Articles and Research

From 1923 to 1959 Vivian and Rosetta Duncan performed the show Topsy and Eva in front of thousands of audiences in the United States and abroad. This essay examines how the Duncan Sisters’ appropriation of blackness through a yin and yang performance of black and white womanhood, their sexualized but ultimately infantilizing routine as young girls, and their take on anarchistic comedy resulted in a particular spin on age, gender, race, and sexuality that reinforced their privilege as white women even while it pushed the boundaries of acceptable femininity in the swiftly shifting American culture of the first half of ...