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Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series) New edition Edition

5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1409455103
ISBN-10: 1409455106
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'One cannot underestimate the import of Manning's scholarship in reinforcing Michael Jackson as a subject worthy of serious academic study and cultural discourse - Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask is not inaccessible to the casual reader. It will, no doubt, find a special place on the bookshelves of various and sundry readers worldwide who experience a deep respect for Jackson and his art - After this book, readers will not likely see this artist in quite the same way again, but through layers of enhanced perception.' --Constance Pierce, Artist and Professor of Art (retired), Bonaventure University, New York

'Even if you have read a significant volume of works about Michael Jackson, you probably owe it to yourself to explore the "fresh", compelling and interesting concepts that are skilfully presented in Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask. A scholarly work to be sure. Kudos to Harriet Manning!' --Dr Karen Moriarty, author of Defending a King: His Life & Legacy

'This is a truly fascinating and engaging book, one that opened my eyes to a new way of seeing Michael Jackson. I highly recommend it.' --Willa Stillwater, author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance

About the Author

Harriet J. Manning studied Music as an undergraduate at Newcastle University, UK. She went on to complete a Master of Arts in Popular Music in 2004, with distinction. In 2010 under Professors Richard Middleton and David Clarke of Newcastle University, Harriet was awarded Doctor of Philosophy for her work on blackface minstrelsy and its legacy.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series
  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New edition edition (August 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409455106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409455103
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,644,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

'Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask' traces Michael Jackson's dance moves and imagery back to the blackface minstrel show tradition, for which white dancers wore black masks and parodied black people. The racism that motivated the minstrel show lives on in black stereotypes (Blacks as mad, bad and dangerous) and Harriet argues that this was at the source of many of the troubles that Michael Jackson had to face.

Yet at the same time, Michael Jackson fought hard against this tradition: Harriet suggests he took the traditional blackface mask and deconstructed it in a powerful act of reclamation in which black self-representation was showcased, celebrated and set free.

'Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye, but the dance lives on.' Michael Jackson

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Author Harriet J. Manning offers a significant contribution to that body of work now known as "Michael Jackson Studies," a comprehensive collection initiated by University of Rochester scholar/author, Joseph Vogel. Since Michael Jackson's untimely death in 2009, his after-life presence and his artistic oeuvre have been enriched exponentially through the scholarship of a plethora of academics including David Dark, Michael Eric Dyson, Susan Fast, Jason King, Sylvia J. Martin, Mark Anthony Neal, Willa Stillwater, Joseph Vogel, and Cornell West - among others.

Now comes British scholar and author Harriet J. Manning who adds a unique particularity of vision with her new book, Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask. This is due to her expertise in the history of blackface minstrelsy and its conflictual legacy. Manning holds a Ph.D. in this area and a Master's degree in Popular Music. This combination allows her to advance singular illuminations on Jackson's cultural influences not previously explored at this level - or with this precision - specifically in Jackson's relationship to minstrelsy's "gestural vocabulary and tropes."

Ashgate Publishing introduces Manning's work with the following thoughts, "... minstrelsy became an arena in which stereotypes were at once enforced and critiqued ... Manning argues that minstrelsy's assumptions and uses have been fundamental to the troubles and controversies with which Jackson was beset."

The author also advises us early on, "In these texts the narrative paradigm of minstrelsy's origins is one of cultural expropriation and exploitation ... serving white superiority and white self-aggrandizement." Blacks were seen (prophetically, with regard to Jackson) as "bad and dangerous.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This thoughtful, well-considered, and well-researched book provides an entirely new frame of reference for interpreting Michael Jackson's work, both as an artist and as an important cultural figure.

Manning begins her book by providing a brief history of blackface minstrelsy. As she explains, it was an extremely popular form of entertainment for more than a century, but now its legacy has largely been pushed underground. However, while this history has been suppressed and ignored in recent decades, Manning shows it has played a powerful role in allowing whites to define what it means to be black - a phenomenon that continues in subtle but pervasive ways even today.

For example, Manning looks at how hip hop reinforces rigid definitions of blackness that were forged in blackface minstrelsy, and suggests it is this aspect of hip hop that led critic Eric Olsen to declare, "Eminem is far blacker than Michael Jackson." As Manning points out, what this statement actually means is that Eminem (a white man) fits white stereotypes of blackness, while Michael Jackson (a black man) defied and resisted those stereotypes.

Manning also looks at two short films by Michael Jackson - "Black or White" and "Michael Jackson's Ghosts" - and shows how he engages with and challenges the legacy of blackface minstrelsy, including the restrictive definitions of race that were being imposed onto him.

This is a truly fascinating and engaging book, one that opened my eyes to a new way of seeing Michael Jackson. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
As the author of “Defending A King ~ His Life & Legacy” about the incomparable Michael Jackson, I approached the reading of “Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask” with special interest. This book by Harriet J. Manning adds a whole new dimension to the study and understanding of the “greatest entertainer of our time,” an enigmatic icon, and the embodiment of multiple cultural influences. The complexity and genius of MJ emerge from the pages of this book with greater clarity and definition.
Michael Jackson determined to study the greats and to learn from them. His goal was to become as knowledgeable as possible -– he reportedly read on average a book each day -– and then to surpass the best entertainers with his own unique “push the envelope” approach to music and dance. No doubt MJ knew about the rich legacy of the blackface minstrelsy, which permeated the entertainment of nineteenth-century America ... but is largely unknown today.
“Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask” is a textbook, in my opinion, in the best sense. It is a welcome addition to other approaches that portray MJ's life and work in print, many of which are tabloid-like and tend toward the superficial. In contrast, Ms. Manning teaches her reader about the sociological, cultural, and racial influences upon the celebrity who had more impact on music, dance, and videos [short films] than any other performing artist. A fascinating and thought-provoking presentation, this book will give the reader an entirely new perspective on Michael Jackson. From the wearing of a mask in his private/public life to his unique, iconic dance moves and gestures, the reader will experience a series of “aha!
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Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series)
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