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Race, Representations of

  • By: Jacquelyn Rahman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Over time, representations of race have played a significant role in the production of humor in the United States. Writers of different backgrounds ranging from Bret Harte and Mark Twain to Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes have drawn on race representations to create humor in their work, but over time, visual media have had a greater audience among the American public than have written media. This entry focuses on past and present humorous portrayals of various racial groups in America on stage, in silent films, in television, and in motion pictures. Humorous representations of race have both influenced and been influenced by attitudes related to political, social, and economic circumstances. Because African Americans, who have been the most frequently portrayed minority racial group, ...

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