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Prosthetic Eyes and Clinique Bronzer: The Material and Technological History of Yellowface in Theater

esther kim lee
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Monday, January 08, 2018
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4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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Professor Esther Kim Lee

Please join us for the research presentation of Esther Kim Lee, Professor in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at University of Maryland. Professor Lee teaches and writes about theater history, Asian American theatre, Korean diaspora theater, and globalization and theater. She is the author of A History of Asian American Theatre, which received the 2007 Award for Outstanding Book given by Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Her website is
The theatrical convention of yellowface spans more than four centuries, and it has been the primary way to represent the "Oriental" or the imagined Asian. Using the musical Miss Saigon as a contemporary case study, the talk traces the history of yellowface in theater. It examines the technology and design of yellowface makeup in the context of the larger discussions of racial representation and reception by unearthing the origins of stage orientalism and material embodiment of race.