According to Robert Allen, the development of American popular entertainment stems from nineteenth-century theatrical forms including vaudeville, burlesque, dime museum performances, and circuses. But these forms underwent a fragmentation of their audience following the Civil War that reflected social classes as well as notions of art, taste, and decorum. In this fragmentation, vaudeville became a cultural model of popular entertainment that influenced such twentieth-century media as film, radio, and television.
At the time of this interview, Allen, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1986-87), was a professor in the Department of Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.