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Approaching Transnational America in Performance

Edited By Birgit M. Bauridl and Pia Wiegmink

The volume is uniquely located at the interdisciplinary crossroads of Performance Studies and transnational American Studies. As both a method and an object of study, performance deepens our understanding of transnational phenomena and America’s position in the world. The thirteen original contributions make use of the field’s vast potential and critically explore a wide array of cultural, political, social, and aesthetic performances on and off the stage. They scrutinize transnational trajectories and address issues central to the American Studies agenda such as representation, power, (ethnic and gender) identities, social mobility, and national imaginaries. As an American Studies endeavor, the volume highlights the cultural, political, and (inter)disciplinary implications of performance.

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Staging the Black Atlantic: Fugitive Slaves in William Wells Brown’s The Escape (1858) (Frank Obenland)

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Frank Obenland

Staging the Black Atlantic: Fugitive Slaves in William Wells Brown’s The Escape (1858)

Abstract: William Wells Brown’s The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom (1858) critiques American slavery from the transnational perspective of Paul Gilroy’s black Atlantic. Drawing on the performance traditions of Shakespearean drama and the minstrel show, the play constructs the figure of the ‘fugitive slave’ to challenge dominant discourses of nation and race.

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