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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

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Music Chair Co-Edits Book ‘Blackness in Opera’

A new book about how black culture is portrayed in opera, co-edited by UALR Department of Music chair Dr. Karen Bryan, is scheduled to be released March 1 by the University of Illinois Press.

The book, “Blackness in Opera,” examines well-known African American operas, such as “Porgy and Bess,” “Aida,” “Treemonisha,” and lesser-known works such as “Blue Steel” and “Ouanga!” to determine how blackness has been represented in these works.

Other issues tackled in “Blackness in Opera” are the controversies of race in the theater, use of blackface, and the characterizations of African Americans.

“We are especially pleased that this collection represents a cross-section of scholars working in musicology, cultural studies, sociology, German literature, women’s studies, and African American studies all examining the central theme of how ‘blackness’ is constructed in opera,” Bryan said.

Naomi André, associate professor of women’s studies at the University of Michigan, and Eric Saylor, associate professor of musicology at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, also edited the book.