Shelfari edited the description of Yellowface Thursday, June 17, 2010.
"Yellowface details the theatrical and musical history of Chinese and Chinese American performance at a time when ‘Asian American’ identity was unheard of. It should be a welcome addition to Asian American studies and American cultural history, as well as theater and music history."—Josephine Lee, author of Performing Asian America: Race and Ethnicity on the Contemporary Stage "Krystyn Moon has produced a finely detailed and nuanced study of China and Chinese Americans on the nineteenth-century American musical stage. Yellowface is an important work for anyone interested in the history of American popular culture and race."—Robert G. Lee, author of Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture Music and performance provide a unique window into the ways that cultural information is circulated and perceptions are constructed. Because they both require listening, are inherently ephemeral, and most often involve collaboration between disparate groups, they inform cultural perceptions differently from literary or visual art forms, which tend to be more tangible and stable. In Yellowface, Krystyn R. Moon explores the contributions of writers, performers, producers, and consumers in order to demonstrate how popular music and performance has played an important role in constructing Chinese and Chinese American stereotypes. The book brings to life the rich musical period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During this time, Chinese and Chinese American musicians and performers appeared in a variety of venues, including museums, community theaters, and world’s fairs, where they displayed their cultural heritage and contested anti-Chinese attitudes. A smaller number crossed over into vaudeville and performed non-Chinese materials. Moon shows how these performers carefully navigated between racist attitudes and their own artistic desires. Although many scholars have studied both African American music and blackface minstrelsy, little attention has been given to Chinese and Chinese American music. This book provides a rare look at the way that immigrants actively participated in the creation, circulation, and, at times, subversion of Chinese stereotypes through their musical and performance work.