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Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights
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Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights

4.63 of 5 stars 4.63  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  6 reviews
WINNER, 2012 OUTSTANDING BOOK AWARD, Association for Theatre in Higher Education

WINNER, 2013 GRACE ABBOTT BOOK AWARD, Society for the History of Childhood and Youth

WINNER, 2013 BOOK AWARD, Children's Literature Association

WINNER, 2012 LOIS P. RUDNICK BOOK PRIZE, New England American Studies Association

WINNER, 2013, IRSCL Book Award, International Research Society for Child
Paperback, 328 pages
Published December 1st 2011 by New York University Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Irma Mayorga
"Dolls of all colors anxiously raise questions about the definitions and limits of humanity. As I have argued throughout this book, all dolls in play, and all stories about sentient dolls, trouble the boundary between person and thing--the terror at the ontological core of slavery. Nineteenth-century black dolls, however, uniquely literalized these functions in that they were owned, insentient things that often explicitly represented enslaved humans. Black dolls marked and eroded the border betw ...more
Cara Byrne
What an outstanding critical look at race, gender, childhood and innocence in nineteenth-century American material and literary culture. Even before her complex analysis of works like _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ and _Uncle Remus_ and cultural juggernauts like Raggedy Ann and Topsy-Turvy dolls, she proposes these worthwhile questions: “Why is abstracted childhood so flexible that it can simultaneously bolster arguments for and against interracial marriage? How did childhood acquire so much affective weig ...more
Very rich argument. This was the kind of book that made me excited to be in graduate school, studying American cultural history, and focusing on performance. Good stuff. Bernstein's argument about "dancing things" in material culture which script our behavior is not simply a powerful contribution to historical cultural studies, it's also an answer to a question I've had this last year: does theater studies have anything to offer other disciplines?

Over the last 15 years, with the definitive emer
Gabriel Oak
Raggedy Ann! Uncle Tom's Cabin! This is cultural studies done right: incisive and engaging.
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
I finally, fully read a book over the course of the semester! And Bernstein's is an excellent book. I find her concept of "scriptive things" to be incredibly useful. Sometimes theories get too abstract for me, but her application of thing-theory elucidates the subjects of race and childhood in innovative ways, as does her tracking of the various performances of race as they crossed media: books to stage plays to pictures to advertisements to dolls.

I'm glad she won the book award for this!
See my review in The Lion and the Unicorn
Volume 36, Number 2, April 2012
pp. 209-213
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