African American Images in Film


The course surveys the evolution of African American images in film, which began with the first major feature length silent film, Birth of a Nation (circa 1915), which celebrated the Ku Klux Klan and contained racist depictions of African Americans. The first "talking film," Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer contained the (in)famous song, "Mammie," which was sung by Mr. Jolson in Black Face, a carry-over from White performers who darkened their faces with burned cork during minstrel and vaudeville live performances. Those early films were produced and directed by European Americans who tended to portray African Americans through negative sterotypical depictions. Gradually, with the passage of time, technology, and the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement, a combination of European and African American film makers began to provide a broader array of Black portrayals that included a spectrum of negative to positive depictions of Black people. We will include an examination of Washington University's Eyes on the Prize archives.
Course Attributes: EN H; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC

Section 01

African American Images in Film
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