The Mirror of Whiteness: Blackface in Charles Chauvel's Jedda Issue Details: First known date: 2007... 2007
AustLit is a subscription service. The content and services available here are limited because you have not been recognised as a subscriber. Find out how to gain full access to AustLit

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This article posits that Chauvel's early experience in and with "blackface" was a significant influence for his own films ... This article recounts a history of blackface performances, as well as ways of reading blackface, to fill some critical gaps in an iconic Australian film - Charles Chauvel's Jedda (1955). My reading of Jedda will turn the film back onto itself to reflect not just Chauvel, but also a long history of racial representation, spanning many continents and over 100 years, which was always radical and racist, benevolent and violent. When Chauvel wore and directed blackface he was, perhaps quite unconsciously, reiterating racial fictions that had justified violent colonialism and slavery since the eighteenth century. To understand this, Chauvel's work must be read within a history of blackface.' (p.140-41)


  • AustLit note: Blackface is a theatrical make-up style used by white actors imitating black people. The style was a feature of American theatre of the 19th century, most commonly seen in the Black and White minstrel shows, where actors blackened their faces and exaggerated the size of their lips to imitate African-Americans.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y JASAL Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature; Spectres, Screens, Shadows, Mirrors Special Issue Tanya Dalziell (editor), Paul Genoni (editor), 2007 Z1373275 2007 periodical issue 2007 pg. 140-156
    Note: Includes list of works cited.
Last amended 9 Aug 2010 11:08:56
140-156 The Mirror of Whiteness: Blackface in Charles Chauvel's JeddaAustLit JASAL