Defense Date

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

John Kneebone

Abstract

This thesis examines the life and musical career of James "Polk" Miller of Richmond Virginia, a Confederate veteran, and successful pharmacist. Miller claimed to offer the only authentic version of antebellum slave music, and was renowned as a convincing "negro delineator." In his focus on race, performance, and authenticity, Miller straddled a number of cultural currents linking him to his nineteenth century predecessors as well as the cultural milieu of the twentieth century. About the turn of the century, he added a black quartet to his act in order to more fully capture his conception of the "authentic" slave music of his youth, a decision that ultimately led to his failure as a stage performer. Audiences' receptions of Miller's quartet illuminate the dynamic way in which performance and race intersected in the early twentieth century.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010

Included in

History Commons

Share

COinS