Daphne A. Brooks | Lemonade from Lemons: Black Women Artists and the Gershwin Problem, 1935-2020

Lecture | February 6 | 4-5:30 p.m. |  Durham Studio Theater (Dwinelle Hall) | Note change in location

 Daphne A. Brooks, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies; Professor of Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University

 Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

The Patrick Finelli Keynote Speaker Series and the Performance Studies Graduate Speaker Series present Daphne A. Brooks, "Lemonade from Lemons: Black Women Artists and the Gershwin Problem, 1935-2020."

As we approach the 85th anniversary of George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s complicated and stubbornly enduring “folk opera,” Porgy and Bess, this talk interrogates the politics and poetics of black feminist performance practices and strategies of (re)arrangement in relation to this text and its multiplicity of iterations—from “southern renaissance” blackface novel to local color four-act play, from behemoth, multi-generic musical to American songbook playlist canon. It ultimately aims to recuperate the “secret history” of sonic strategy and counter-archiving deployed by stage actors, cabaret chanteuse virtuosos, jazz geniuses, and contemporary pop phenoms who dissected, disassembled, and redesigned the sound and aesthetics of black womanhood by way of the Gershwin and Heyward problem. Their work reminds us that at the heart of Porgy and Bess, “there’s a riot goin’ on.”

About the Speaker

Daphne A. Brooks is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham, NC: Duke UP), winner of The Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship on African American Performance from ASTR, and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (New York: Continuum, 2005). Brooks is currently working on a three-volume study of black women and popular music culture entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity. The first volume in the trilogy, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Archive, the Critic, and Black Women’s Sound Cultures, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.

 All Audiences

 tdps@berkeley.edu