by Charlotte Canning
Stephanie Batiste, Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression-Era African American Performance (2012).
Batiste explores the ways in which African Americans used performance to construct global identities in the face of US oppression and imperialism. The book argues that claiming agency and empowerment was not impossible in a world of entrenched racism.
Donna M. Binkiewicz, Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1965-1980 (2004).
An extensive history of the founding and early years of the NEA, this book documents the moderate politics of the endowment and its Cold War agenda. The focus is primarily on the visual arts programs, but provides a history of the ongoing struggles in the US over national arts policy.
Clare Croft, Dancers As Diplomats: American Choreography in Cultural Exchange (2015).
This book explores how US dance was integral to cultural diplomacy efforts of the 1960s and beyond. Through interviews with the performers who toured the world as official representatives of the US, as well as extensive archival work, Croft thoroughly documents how performance and geopolitics are always dancing with one another.
Lara Nielsen and Patricia Ybarra, eds, Neoliberalism and Global Theatres: Performance Permutations (2012).
The conversation about theatre and internationalism is transformed by globalization. This anthology asks how live performance embraces and resists neoliberal ideologies. The essays in explore a wide range of institutions, artists, and communities that create theatre for audiences across the globe.
David Savran, Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class (2010).
Savran details how theatre in the US was reinvented through the revolution of jazz. More than a type of music, this cultural form challenged entrenched cultural and political hierarchies in the first culture war of the 20th century. The book meticulously demonstrates that when jazz began to appear on the legitimate stage, theatre leaders rushed to embrace and canonize the newly emerging literary theatre as a bulwark against jazz’s perceived dangers. This struggle would define the US theatre for decades to come.