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Staging FaithReligion and African American Theater from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II$
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Craig R. Prentiss

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814707951

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814707951.001.0001

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Lynching and the Faraway God

Lynching and the Faraway God

(p.73) 3 Lynching and the Faraway God
Staging Faith

Craig R. Prentiss

NYU Press

This chapter demonstrates plays that serve as another test case for the burgeoning humanism that influenced black playwrights. Between 1916 and 1941, African Americans wrote more than twenty-five plays addressing the scourge of lynching. These plays are viewed primarily as testaments to the politics of race, gender, and class in early twentieth-century life; yet, religion figures prominently in more than three-quarters of the twenty-five available anti-lynching scripts. These scripts contain a humanistic style of theological discourse, visible both in the words of individual characters who challenge God's goodness and in the structure of the plays themselves. The chapter categorizes the plays into four themes: refusal of motherhood plays, exposing the church plays, awakening human agency plays, and futility of prayer plays.

Keywords:   humanism, black playwrights, lynching, religion, twentieth-century life, theological discourse, God's goodness

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