Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger
What do you think of when you hear or read Vaudeville? Nostalgia for a simpler time of gas-lamp lit stage productions? A smile at the thought of the slapstick, episodic comedies that gave rise to early cinema and classic cartoons? Or maybe more problematic images such as the racialized minstrel shows?
I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have thought of Vaudeville as a space where indigenous performers could practice greater autonomy, self-determination and identity building than in any other venue available at the time. But this was one of the central points of Christine Bold’s fascinating lecture, “Indigenous Modernities: From Wild West to Vaudeville.”
Professor Bold (University of Guelph) described some of the results of her ongoing project to recover a hidden history in which native performers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries used the Vaudeville stage to construct modern indigiocity....