Home » miscellaneous » THTR/DNCE presents ~ Friday Dec. 10th 3pm ~ “The Battle before ‘The Souls of Black Folk’: Black Performance in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition

THTR/DNCE presents ~ Friday Dec. 10th 3pm ~ “The Battle before ‘The Souls of Black Folk’: Black Performance in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition


Next week, the theatre graduate faculty is hosting a rising “star” in the field of
performance studies, with special interest in the African Diaspora, named Amma
Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin (see bio below).

(Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley)

The Battle before “The Souls of Black Folk”:
Black Performance in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition

African American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois not only formulated his central
theories concerning the predicament of black identity at the turn of the
twentieth century in writing, he also exhibited them through a museum-style
display called the American Negro Exhibit. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin argues that
his display, which was featured at the Paris world’s fair in 1900 and made its
American debut at Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition (PAX) in 1901, performed
central ideas in The Souls of Black Folk, two years before his definitive text was

Friday, 10 December
C342 University Theatre (The Seminar Room)

Sponsored by Theatre and Dance Program Fees, and by Theatre Division donors
For more information, please contact Oliver Gerland (gerland@colorado.edu)

From UC-Berkeley website:

Dr. Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin practices and studies the intersections of
academic history and performance (i.e. theatre, film, and television). Her
research interests center on the African Diaspora, particularly the impact of the
transatlantic slave trade in her homeland of Ghana, and how performance
mediates the interactions between continental Africans, first-generation Africans
in the U.S., and African-Americans.

Amma began her work as a high school student at Manhattan High School in
Manhattan, KS where, under the instruction of history teachers Mickey Bogart
and Crystal Johnson, she created a nationally-award winning solo historical
performance titled: “Joseph Cinqué and the Amistad Incident: Taking a Stand for
Freedom” for the 1996 National History Day Competition. She then received the
A.B. in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University and the M.A. and Ph.D. in
Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where
she studied under scholars and artists including: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett,
Diana Taylor, Tavia Nyong’o, Anna Deveare Smith, and Richard Schechner.

She has worked in and out of academia, including holding fellowships at
National History Day, Inc. and the National Endowment for the Humanities
(Public Programs Division); creating mini-theatrical works at Mystic Seaport
Museum in Mystic, Connecticut; and more recently, working under Resident
Historian Dr. Libby O’Connell at HISTORY (formerly known as The History
Channel). Her recent publications and production work include: an original oral-
history-based play titled “UnSpoken: Narratives of Civil Rights” (Tisch, 2005);
How to Create a Historical Documentary, an instructional video produced and a
manual published for The History Channel and National History Day, Inc. (2006);
and serving as Senior Producer of Educational Materials for The History
Channel’s Peabody award-winning documentary, Save Our History: Voices of
Civil Rights. Her work for this program received cable television’s highest honor
for public affairs, the 2006 Beacon Award.

During her Mellon postdoc residency, Amma will expand her dissertation, “The
Battle Before The Souls of Black Folk: Black Performance in the 1901 Pan-
American Exposition,” into a book and pursue her creative endeavor of inventing
performance-centered methodologies of “doing” history. This project has been
supported by a number of fellowships during her graduate work, including the
2007 Ford Dissertation Fellowship, the 2007 NYU Torch Prize Fellowship, the
2006 Harvey Fellowship (Mustard Seed Foundation), and the 2006 John Hope
Franklin Fellowship (American Philosophical Society).