Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

With a Banjo on Her Knee: Gender, Race, Class, and the American Classical Banjo Tradition, 1880-1915

Prior to the Civil War the banjo was an instrument associated exclusively with black slaves or blackface minstrel troupes. During the second half of the nineteenth century enthusiasts in major Northeastern cities sought to elevate the banjo, creating an instrument appropriate for more genteel performances in the parlors of the white leisured classes. For many members of nineteenth-century American middle-class society making the banjo a parlor instrument was synonymous with making it a woman’s instrument. Enthusiasts recognized that acceptance by women was crucial to the banjo’s success as a legitimate concert instrument. Women, considered more civilized in nineteenth-century gender ideology, could elevate the banjo through their performance, and more players – specifically those in higher, more prestigious social classes – would then be attracted to the refined...

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