"In this original, vigorous, and deeply researched book, Douglas Jones offers a powerful new perspective on antebellum racial politics. With devastating precision, Jones implicates the antebellum stage as a major site through which white Northerners—and, inadvertently, some African Americans—cultivated a proslavery imagination. Thus the book challenges scholarly conventions that locate proslavery ideology primarily below the Mason-Dixon Line or that consider performance mainly as a source of social transgression or political resistance. Rich with archival discoveries as well as startling, de-familiarizing analyses of well-known texts, The Captive Stage signals the arrival of a major new voice in theatre history and critical race studies."
—Robin Bernstein, Harvard University
"The Captive Stage makes a substantive and exciting contribution to the growing body of literature examining performances of race, slavery, and citizenship in nineteenth-century American culture."
—Heather Nathans, Tufts University
"In The Captive Stage, Doug Jones offers an engaging, theoretically nuanced, and richly detailed historical study of antebellum performances by prominent artists and public intellectuals, including T.D. Rice, William Wells Brown, and Frederick Douglass. Closely reading plays and public lectures, he identifies the "proslavery imagination" of white northerners, a romantic racialist view of African Americans as being unworthy of (or not yet ready for) social equality, and chronicles the efforts of select black performers to challenge that worldview. His book meaningfully and significantly contributes to the study of nineteenth-century American culture as well as critical understandings of embodied black experience."
—Harvey Young, Northwestern University
"In this welcome new study of black and blackface performance in the early republic and antebellum North, Jones builds on a new generation of scholarship in order to deepen and qualify our understanding of the precise dilemmas faced by black freedom in a young, antiblack, slaveholding nation."