From Allegorical Type and Sartorial Satire to Minstrel Dandy Stereotype, Zip Coon, Jim Crow, and Blackface-on-Black Violence

  • Robert Hornback
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


That religious, moral allegorical types could be exploited to yield racial stereotypes is the subject of Chap.  4, which takes up the influence of one major type of enduring foolish blackface stereotype, the black dandy, and demonstrates its deep roots in religious and didactic treatments of folly. Blackface often appeared as a humorous moral emblem of misplaced vanity in sermon exempla, medieval mystery plays, and allegorical Tudor moral interludes aimed at satirizing elite sartorial excess via courtly devils and diabolical Vices like Pride—all represented as black. Examples of this influential blackface type survived through the early modern period and resurfaced in the provocative symbolism embodied in the dandified Zip Coon and the would-be dandy “Jim Crow, Esquire.” In staging blackness through the guise of a foolish and vain black Stranger, antebellum minstrelsy built upon self-righteously moralizing comic traditions of blackface passed down from the religious drama of the Middle Ages. In particular, through his subjection of this dandy typology to the supposed “moral benefit” of mockery, T.D. “Jim Crow” Rice perpetuated Old World, metaphysically derived hierarchies that found self-righteous expression in “blackface-on-Black” violence and Jim Crow segregation alike.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Hornback
    • 1
  1. 1.Oglethorpe UniversityAtlantaUSA

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