Cockrell: Demons of Disorder (1997)


Demons of Disorder:
Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World

by Dale Cockrell

Carnival, charivari, mumming plays, peasant festivals, and even early versions of the Santa Claus myth–all of these forms of entertainment influenced and shaped blackface minstrelsy in the first half of the nineteenth century. In his fascinating study Demons of Disorder, musicologist Dale Cockrell studies issues of race and class by analyzing their cultural expressions, and investigates the roots of still-remembered songs such as “Jim Crow,” “Zip Coon,” and “Dan Tucker.” The first book on the blackface tradition written by a leading musicologist, Demons of Disorder is an important achievement in music history and culture.

This riveting analysis of unconventional texts (including some astounding court transcripts from cases involving minstrels and their music) goes far to de-mystify and articulate the powerful currents beneath the surface of the blackface crazy of the 1830s-1840s.

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