Smith_CreolizationF13The Creolization of American Culture: William Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy by Christopher J. Smith has been awarded the Irving Lowens Book Award by the Society for American Music (SAM).

The SAM award committee had this statement upon the announcement of the honor:

[The Creolization of American Culture] comfortably disrupts our contextual understanding of minstrelsy and the points of cultural transference between black and white musicians in nineteenth-century America. Significantly, [Smith] employs the term creolization, the mixture of cultures, instead of insisting on the equal-but-separate racial paradigm, while always giving agency to African-Caribbean-American musicians. The book combines a careful critical overview of the existing literature on minstrelsy, close analysis of a wide variety of historical sources (especially of works of visual art), and a thorough knowledge of musical style and performance techniques to provide a persuasive demonstration that early minstrel culture created a vernacular style rooted in the working class, a style that integrated Anglo-Celtic and Afro-Caribbean practices into an original synthesis.

A paperback edition of The Creolization of American Culture was released in the fall.

You can read an interview about the book with author Christopher J. Smith here.

 

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