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HIST 449 – AMERICAN POP CULTURE MIDTERM STUDY GUIDE IMPORTANT THEMES TO CONSIDER: COMPOSITION OF AUDIENCES Compositions of audiences over time and how they changed how were they democratic or stratified? 1. Minstrelsy: Started with the need for the common man’s culture. Were all about pleasing the audience and regularly included stock characters that represented numerous ethnicities, predominately African American. Early minstrel shows had more Scottish and Irish influence than African By 1840, the audiences included women. Satirizes the upper class so it becomes popular with the working class, although, everyone enjoys going to these shows. For the working class, minstrelsy suits the desires of the working class to distinguish themselves from slave labor. acts as the glue that holds the working class together. Abolitionists and freed blacks would also attend these shows (if they could afford it). Blacks would eventually participate in these shows because of the limited options they faced following the civil war. 2. Barnum’s Museums: mixed class patronage. Middle and working class people are allowed to go. Barnum’s policy is a quarter a ticket, no questions asked. Manipulated the media to gain attendance. Was not egalitarian in terms of race, which results in the development of a street gang culture that separates nationals from newly immigrated Irish. 3. Burlesque Develops from the concert saloons and variety theaters that came out of a heavy conservative movement of the time (Comstock Law outlaws obscene literature, and things deemed explicit like birth control). Catered to different types of people based on ethnicity, neighborhood, etc. Working class men come together and find out what they have in common. Not embraced by elites. Crowds kept coming because of the promise to see almost naked women displayed on a certain level of class.
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4. Vaudeville Invented by small entrepreneurs of the amusement business, most notably, Benjamin Franklin Keith. Noticed that people would stick around longer if shows consisted of shorter shows of many varieties which he called “Continuous Theater” Comparable to cable TV because there was literally something for everyone.
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