Past Event

Colloquium: Emily Wilbourne (CUNY) “The Black Buffoon in the Seventeenth Century and the Pre-History of Minstrelsy”

March 3, 2023
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
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Friday, March 3rd at 3pm in Dodge 622

Talk title: “The Black Buffoon in the Seventeenth Century and the Pre-History of Minstrelsy”

Black and enslaved characters appear with surprising frequency within the comic casts of seventeenth-century Italian operas and music dramas, echoing, in dramatic form, the Black and enslaved entertainers who lived and laboured within the Italian court environment. Combining archival work and close readings of theatrical sources, this paper demonstrates the extent to which common tropes of Black minstrelsy rehearsed and re-inhabited long traditions of Black Italian representation.

Speaker bio: Emily Wilbourne is Associate Professor of Musicology at Queens College, in the City University of New York, and at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her books include Seventeenth-Century Opera and the Sound of the Commedia dell’Arte (Chicago, 2016), Lesbian / Opera: Elena Kats-Chernin’s Iphis and Matricide: The Musical (Lyrebird Press, 2022), and Voice, Slavery, and Race in Seventeenth-Century Florence (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023). A collection of essays, co-edited with Suzanne G. Cusick, is available via open access: Acoustemologies in Contact: Sounding Subjects and Modes of Listening in Early Modernity (Open Book Publishers, 2021).

This event is sponsored by the Department of Music and the Center for Ethnomusicology.