African American Cinema, 1930-Present

Elective Courses

CINE 392 - African American Cinema, 1930-Present

AFRC 392 | ARTH 489 | COML 391 | ENGL 392
401 |Mask, Mia |MW 3:30-5pm |FBH 244

This course provides a survey of the history of African American representation in cinema. It begins with an examination of "race movies" of the 1930s including early Black cast westerns (Harlem Rides the RangeThe Bronze BuckarooHarlem on the Prairie). The course covers Black-cast musicals of the 30s and 40s (St. Louis BluesBlack and TanHi De HoSweethearts of Rhythm). We will interrogate the changing configuration of race relations and how legislation, social protest and desegregation precipitated changes in American film. Political debate circulating around cross over stars (Paul Robeson, Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, and Harry Belafonte) is central to the course. Special consideration is given to Blaxploitation cinema of the seventies (ShaftCoffyFoxy BrownCleopatra Jones) in an attempt to understand its impact on filmmakers and the historical contexts for contemporary filmmaking.  The course covers "Los Angeles Rebellion" filmmakers such as Julie Dash, Charles Burnett and Haile Gerima. Realist cinema of the 80's and 90's (Do the Right ThingBoyz N the HoodMenace II Society and Set It Off) is examined before the transition to Black romantic comedies, family films, and genre pictures (Love and BasketballBamboozledAkeelah and the BeeThe Great Debaters).  The methodological approach to the material is interdisciplinary. The readings address film history, criticism and aesthetics. Course material is also taken from critical race theory, queer theory and cultural studies.  Readings, screenings and papers are required.

last updated 06/24/2014 - 10:02am

Cinema Studies Program
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall ⋅ 3340 Walnut Street ⋅ Philadelphia, PA 19104 ⋅ (215) 898-8782