Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Dumanis, Michael

Subject Headings

Berryman, John, 1914-1972, Dream songs -- Criticism and interpretation, Minstrel music -- Fiction, Blackface entertainers -- Fiction, John Berryman, 77 Dream songs, Blackface minstrelsy


John Berryman has been criticized for his employment of white performance of blackface minstrelsy's conventions and dialect in 77 Dream Songs because of the complex history of this tradition of blackface's problematic performance of racial fantasy and because of Berryman's designation as a white, confessional poet. However, when one observes the history of this tradition of minstrelsy, its initial reception, its "transcodification" into the white American racial ideology, and subsequent scholarly analyses of its implications, it is evident that Berryman creates an anti-model of minstrelsy which consequently becomes a minstrelsy of "whiteness." Through this anti-model, which shifts the public gaze from "blackness" to "whiteness," Berryman deconstructs each, eliminating the justification for unequal political power based on the faulty ideology of difference