Chapter

A Ferber Plot

Todd Decker

in Show Boat

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759378
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979554 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759378.003.0001

Series: Broadway Legacies

                      A Ferber Plot

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Author Edna Ferber's inspiration and research methods while writing Show Boat are put in context with the vogue for Negro spirituals in 1920s Manhattan. The plot of the novel is situated within Ferber's previous work and the central character of Magnolia Hawkes Ravenal is compared to other Ferber heroines. Ferber's use of Negro spirituals to define Magnolia's identity and lay out the book's principal theme is critiqued from the perspective of popular entertainment history. Oscar Hammerstein II's alterations to Ferber's story, in particular his realignment of white characters' reactions to racial questions, are considered.

Keywords: Edna Ferber; Jazz Age; miscegenation; Broadway theater; Show Boat; vaudeville; coon shouting; Negro spirituals

Chapter.  7227 words. 

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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