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Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World$
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Fionnghuala Sweeney

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781846310782

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846313141

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‘Mask in Motion’: Dialect Spaces and Class Representation

‘Mask in Motion’: Dialect Spaces and Class Representation

Chapter:
(p.94) Chapter 5 ‘Mask in Motion’: Dialect Spaces and Class Representation
Source:
Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846313141.006

This chapter turns to the performative techniques adopted and developed by Frederick Douglass during the early stages of his public career. A consideration of his use and manipulation of popular and populist forms during his early career is reported, highlighting the subversive effect of the carnivalesque on the parameters of élite national identity. Additionally, the chapter investigates the degree to which Douglass appropriated the tropes of minstrelsy, its stock characters, and use of dialect spaces. The degree of overdetermination with regard to class, race, culture, and authenticity was clear in Douglass's own remarks addressing minstrelsy, and he often engaged with the image and mask of the trickster and minstrel. Moreover, his oratory offers a point through which the rhetorical possibility of folk culture, the carnival audience, and the play between non-modern and Enlightenment invocations of politico-cultural space may be studied.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, carnivalesque, élite national identity, minstrelsy, dialect spaces, class, folk culture, carnival audience

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