Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Paris BluesAfrican American Music and French Popular Culture, 1920-1960$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Andy Fry

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226138787

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226138954.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Rethinking The Revue Nègre

Rethinking The Revue Nègre

Black Musical Theatre after Josephine Baker

(p.29) 1. Rethinking The Revue Nègre
Paris Blues

Adny Fry

University of Chicago Press

In 1925, Josephine Baker was famously launched to Parisian stardom by La Revue nègre. This show has come to be seen as an end rather than a beginning: the “Call to Order” supposedly reined in taste for “primitive” art nègre and marked a return to French tradition. This chapter challenges that theory, identifying a practice that extends almost the length of the interwar period: far from a single event, the imported “revue nègre” became a genre, embracing such groups as Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds (1926, 1929) and Louis Douglas’ Black Flowers (1930); they continued, albeit less frequently, into the late 1930s. Yet reception of these shows was frequently entangled in racial theories. Of particular concern to critics were the troupes’ apparent hybridity. In “savage” Josephine Baker’s wake, other female performers, Florence Mills, Adelaide Hall, Aida Ward, and Valaida Snow, were believed to embody different kinds of black woman, even varying degrees of civilization. Still, subtle differences can be found between (black) Douglas’ presentations of his performers and that of his white counterpart, “Papa Plantation” Leslie. This reveals a complex negotiation with white expectation – a process that continues today, as explored in a reading of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled which frames the chapter.

Keywords:   Josephine Baker, French tradition, revue nègre, Blackbirds (shows), reception, racial theory, hybridity, Bamboozled (film)

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.