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Staging FaithReligion and African American Theater from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II$
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Craig R. Prentiss

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814707951

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814707951.001.0001

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date: 13 December 2017



(p.163) Conclusion
Staging Faith

Craig R. Prentiss

NYU Press

This concluding chapter states that religion's centrality to the lives of African Americans assured it would command significant attention in their works. These playwrights lived in an age where books like The New Negro and journals like Crisis portrayed the arts as the vanguard not only for transforming white perceptions about African Americans but also for enabling African Americans themselves to reimagine their identities. The book began with a study of the contemporary theatrical tradition described by Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his article—a tradition saturated with religious melodrama. Despite the fact that staged church services and gospel music were central to drawing attention to several plays written by African Americans, those playwrights created their scripts to undermine the stereotype that emotion, superstition, irrationality, and blind faith were innate features of African American religious life.

Keywords:   religion, African American playwrights, The New Negro, Crisis, contemporary theatrical tradition, African American religious life

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