Title page for ETD etd-04122007-113729

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Guidry, Justin
Author's Email Address jguid39@lsu.edu
URN etd-04122007-113729
Title Grinning with the Devil: The Use of Humor in Race Record Advertisements
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Charles Shindo Committee Chair
Gaines Foster Committee Member
John Rodrigue Committee Member
  • blues music
Date of Defense 2007-04-09
Availability unrestricted
The advertisements that appeared in black newspapers for race records in the 1920s were employed to interest the buying public in a new mode of music: the rural blues. Although blues music is characterized by its sadness and despair, these advertisements employed humor and cartoon illustrations in the advertisements. While at first thought, this method of advertising seems inappropriate, further examination of advertisersí and the publicís perceptions of blues music, as well as some of the qualities of the genre itself illuminate these elaborately drawn advertisements.

While older modes of plantation stereotyping informed the advertisers and illustrators producing the ads, many of the more racially offensive qualities associated with previous, antebellum depictions of American-Americans were eliminated because of the black publicís emergence as a consumer group. The fact that humor was still used reflects not only the stereotypes that advertisers were working with. It also demonstrates popular perceptions of the blues, which itself frequently incorporated humor and sexual imagery.

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