Please consider submitting a proposal to the SECAC 2021 panel, “Dark Amusements: Turn-of-the-Century American Spectacles and Race”
The U.S. at the turn-of-the-century marked a period of profound technological and societal transformations. This session will examine the growth of spectacles in response to these sweeping changes. This marked a turning point in the U.S., where people’s interests shifted, as David Nye points out, from a fetishization of the “natural sublime” to the “technological sublime.” This change, spurred by the myriad inventions and innovations flooding the consumer market, led to new ways of seeing, and new forms of entertainment. These new forms of entertainment often took the shape of public spectacles and popular amusements. This session will examine how the burgeoning American spectacle culture celebrated American ingenuity, on the one hand, while simultaneously re-inscribing and reinforcing racial hierarchies. In the post-Reconstruction era, when white anxiety about the status of people of color within American society was at its zenith, spectacles were used to circulate and naturalize racist ideologies about white superiority. The repercussions of this expression of hegemonic power by European Americans will likewise be examined. Potential paper topics may include, but are not limited to, panoramas, world’s fairs, early cinema, vaudeville, minstrelsy, amusement parks, Wild West shows, or the perverse spectacles of lynching postcards and before and after photographs from Indigenous boarding schools.
SECAC 2021 in Lexington, KY – November 10-13
Abstracts due May 4. 2021
Conference and submission details can be found by following this link: secacart.org/page/Lexington