Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

Ehrick, Christine

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Kelland, Lara

Committee Member

Kelland, Lara

Committee Member

Stoever, Jennifer

Author's Keywords

asian american history; sound studies


The position of the Asian in the American popular imagination has a long history, stretching back to nineteenth century vaudeville theatrical performances and remaining largely unchanged throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. Portrayed as simultaneously cunning and ignorant, spiritual and corrupt, or submissive and sexualized, Oriental stereotypes have remained firmly entrenched in popular culture. While perceptions of race exist largely in a visual sense, a closer look at how people heard racial differences opens up new avenues for scholarly interpretation of the social construction of race and the shifting notions of citizenship. This thesis will investigate how listeners during the Golden Age of American radio understood race and racial differences, as yellowface on the radio allowed performers to embody conceptions of Asian otherness, producing sonic caricatures that reinforced notions of inferiority while concurrently securing a white national identity. This thesis adds to the growing number of cultural histories of Asian Americans and offers readers a comprehensive look into the presence of yellowface on the radio during the first half of the twentieth century.

Part One.mp3 (10220 kB)
Part One of the podcast series Sonic Intolerance

Part Two.mp3 (9602 kB)
Part Two of the podcast series Sonic Intolerance

Part Three.mp3 (10952 kB)
Part Three of the podcast series Sonic Intolerance

Part Four.mp3 (17345 kB)
Part Four of the podcast series Sonic Intolerance