AAST 105: African Americans in Film, 1900-Present: Individuals and Ideas on Screen

woman seated behind video camera

This course covers the history of Blacks in American film – looking both at films produced and directed by African Americans, and at the relationship between Black filmmakers, performers, and audiences to the Hollywood film industry.  Film images of Blacks are imaginative, historical, and political documents – all at the same time.  Racial representations in the United States have been the outcome of contests over the place of Blacks in American political, cultural, and social life. In this course we will explore the changing politics of Black imagery in the first century of American film-making, from Birth of a Nation  to Moonlight, and situate this examination within the cultural and political contexts that make these images “legible,” enjoyable, or enraging to film audiences.  Central to this exploration will be a study of African American visual culture and its participation in the historical and contemporary dialogue about race, gender, class, and sexuality in American society.