Summer 2008

HUMS 640
Race and Film


06/16/2008 - 06/20/2008
Monday-Friday 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM

This course examines in depth the ways in which notions of race have been created, made standard, and expanded in mainstream pre-Hollywood and Hollywood movies. Our quest will begin with the year 1915 and proceed to the 1970s. We will examine films made in five different years, looking at a range of expressions of race, including the depictions of African Americans, American Indians, Anglo-Americans, and others, including Italians, Jews, the Irish, and Latin Americans from various countries. We will focus our inquiry on why certain stereotypes have remained so cherished and what they reveal about the identity of the United States.

Major readings include Gina Marchetti, Romance and the "Yellow Peril": Race, Sex and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction; James Snead, White Screens/Black Images; Ed Guerrero, Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film; Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America. Films to be viewed include The Birth of a Nation, Holiday, Gone with the Wind, Hallelujah, and Sayonara.

Students will be expected to keep a journal devoted to commentary about the films viewed, lead a discussion about a film, one short paper (5-8 pp), and a longer paper (15+ pp).

Gayle Pemberton (B.A. University of Michigan; M.A., Ph.D. Harvard University) is professor of African American studies, American studies, and English. She is a former Ford Foundation, W.E.B. DuBois Institute, and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow, and author of The Hottest Water in Chicago: Notes of a Native Daughter. Her most recent book, The Road to Gravure: Black Women and American Cinema, is forthcoming from Norton. Click here for more information about Gayle Pemberton.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 30 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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