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Stories of freedom in Black New York /

White, Shane (author.).

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Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
York - Rock Hill Branch 974.7 WHITE (Text) 33205007246172 Adult Non-Fiction Available -

Record details

  • ISBN: 0674008936
  • ISBN: 9780674008939
  • Physical Description: print
    260 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
  • Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2002.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. [227]-249) and index.
Formatted Contents Note: Introduction -- The end of slavery -- Staging freedom -- Shakespeare's true representative -- Imitation -- Epilogue.
Subject: African Americans New York (State) New York History 19th century
African Americans New York (State) New York Social conditions 19th century
African Americans New York (State) New York Intellectual life
African Americans Intellectual life 19th century
New York (N.Y.) History 1775-1865
New York (N.Y.) Race relations
New York (N.Y.) Intellectual life 19th century
African American theater New York (State) New York History 19th century
African Company (New York, N.Y.) History
African American actors New York (State) New York Biography
Slavery Social aspects New York (State) New York History 19th century

Syndetic Solutions - CHOICE_Magazine Review for ISBN Number 0674008936
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
by White, Shane
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CHOICE_Magazine Review

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

CHOICE


Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

In this pathbreaking work, White (Univ. of Sydney) explores the everyday lives of African Americans who experienced the end of slavery in New York City (NYC). According to a 1799 New York State law, all slave owners had to manumit their slaves by 1827. Until now, historians have most often focused on that legislation and the 1827 celebrations that accompanied slavery's end. White's fresh perspective on gradual emancipation explores how African Americans negotiated a new freedom and identity. At the book's heart is a biography of the onetime slave and Shakespearean actor, James Hewlett. Hewlett's life gives White a means of analyzing the social, cultural, and economic uncertainties that gradual emancipation created for African Americans. His inventive use of primary sources allows him to give Hewlett and other ex-slaves a voice. In the future, any historian who lectures on or writes about the end of slavery in NYC will have to address the issues that White has raised. With its emphasis on music, dance, theater, and other cultural venues, this comprehensively researched study is an excellent companion piece to White's Somewhat More Independent: The End of Slavery in New York City, 1770-1810 (CH, Sep'91). ^BSumming Up: Essential. All levels/collections. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta

Syndetic Solutions - Library Journal Review for ISBN Number 0674008936
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
by White, Shane
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Library Journal Review

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

Library Journal


(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

White (history, Univ. of Sydney), coauthor of the notable Stylin', here continues his exploration of African American cultural expression. He opens in New York before emancipation, focusing on the 1821 founding and growth of the African Company, a theater group, and the rise and fall of prominent black actor James Hewlett. Hewlett and the African Company are just two of many audacious examples of how former slaves asserted themselves culturally once freed-much to the chagrin of whites, who preferred blacks to maintain the lowly social position they held as slaves. Claiming New York's public space as their own through balls, music, fashion, and language, Hewlett and his fellow actors are presented as both theater pioneers and forerunners of the dynamic and exhilarating New York we know today. White's thought-provoking analysis complements George Thompson's A Documentary History of the African Theatre, the only other book-length publication on this subject. Suitable for U.S. history collections.-Sherri Barnes, Univ. of California Lib., Santa Barbara (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Syndetic Solutions - Kirkus Review for ISBN Number 0674008936
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
by White, Shane
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Kirkus Review

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

Kirkus Reviews


Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A dazzling history of the first African-American theater company in New York, focusing on principal actor James Hewlett. In 1799, the state legislature "ended" slavery: all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799, would be free-after 25 to 28 years in indentured servitude. Against this backdrop, a small group of free northern blacks, in 1821, formed a theater troupe. White (History/Univ. of Sydney; Stylin': African American Expressive Culture, 1998) notes that in 1821 acting was "the exclusive and natural preserve of whites," but the new company staged Shakespeare, particularly Richard III, with the lead played by Hewlett, who had been the servant of two English actors. In 1822, the troupe moved next door to the Park Theater. As Hewlett began his soliloquy one evening, the police halted the drama, took the cast into custody, and released them only after their promise "never to act Shakespeare again." In its old quarters, the company mounted new productions, but months later a group of men entered the theater and attacked the actors, destroying scenery, lamps, and stage curtain. Afterward, the company performed intermittently, in New York and on tour, and in 1823, Hewlett began a career with a one-person show, a format then unknown. By 1825, he was at the height of his career, with plans to travel to London. Sadly, another New York performer, Ira Aldridge, got there first and presented much of Hewlett's act as his own. Back home, as the American public turned to minstrel shows for entertainment, Hewlett found less and less work, got caught up in the criminal world, served a two-year sentence, and was released in 1839, in his 50s. He took the first boat from New York and disembarked at Port of Spain, Trinidad. There, he briefly revived his stage career before disappearing without a trace. Superb, well-researched history, brilliantly alive.

Syndetic Solutions - BookList Review for ISBN Number 0674008936
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
by White, Shane
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BookList Review

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

Booklist


From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

The early decades of the nineteenth century were turbulent as blacks and whites struggled with the end of slavery in New York. It was an era marked by race riots, forced segregation, and degrading depictions of black life, even as whites demonstrated a voyeuristic fascination with New York's black citizenry. Drawing on newspaper accounts, court records, and other documents, White recounts the black theater, balls, cotillions, and other social expressions that provoked virulent attacks and editorializing from whites uneasy with the new freedom blacks enjoyed. The author, a history professor, focuses on a black theater group, its leading actor, James Hewlett, and a Jewish newspaper editor, Mordecai Noah, as telling representatives of how blacks sought to express their freedom and whites sought to keep them in their place. Hewlett was prominent among performers trying to maintain their dignity in a range of dramatic productions, including Shakespeare, at a time when minstrel shows were coming into vogue. White captures the vibrancy and difficulties of the era when a distinct black culture began to emerge, and draws parallels to the current American cultural melange and contemporary racial attitudes. --Vanessa Bush

Syndetic Solutions - Publishers Weekly Review for ISBN Number 0674008936
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
Stories of Freedom in Black New York
by White, Shane
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Publishers Weekly Review

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

Publishers Weekly


(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

New York abolition, which was formally granted in 1817 but not fully carried out until July, 4, 1827, complicated the social structure of the state and city during an awkward, staggered process. During this period a theater troupe called the African Company emerged. White, a professor of history at Australia's University of Sydney, reconstructs the vital life of this troupe in the New York of the 1820s, situating its struggles within the larger context of a sometimes exuberant yet uneasy time. Not only did the company perform Shakespeare's Richard III, one of the era's most popular dramas, as its first production, but the cast often rewrote dialogue and inserted elements from other sources. As played by former slave Charles Taft, the reworked lead role took on an added dimension, becoming a version of the trickster figure from African folklore. Many white critics and community figures were, not surprisingly, scandalized by the productions, and company members suffered harassment at the hands of local toughs and authorities alike. Taft was jailed for theft, and his successor James Hewlitt became the victim of changing audience tastes that doomed his career before he ended up imprisoned as a smalltime con artist. While the African Company's existence has previously been noted by scholars, it has generally been dismissed as a novelty or aberration. Drawing on extensive research, White emphasizes such achievements as the on-stage depiction of slavery, and vividly depicts powerful personalities like Taft and Hewlitt. He makes a persuasive case for the company's cultural importance, particularly as a forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance that was still a century away. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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