From Shaft to Django: The History of Blaxploitation Film

AFRICAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES 3003

Hollywood was in steep decline in the late 1960's. On the brink of collapse, the film industry was rescued by an unprecedent boom in films that featured Black casts and targeted Black audiences. Narratives of slick-talking hustlers and afro-sporting femme fetales intent on "sticking it to the man," these would come to be known as Blaxploitation films. This class will historically contextualize and critically examine the Blaxploitation phenomenon of the 1970's. We will explore what led to the emergence of Blaxploitation, the peaks of its popularity, the controversies that surrounded it, its rapid demise, and its lasting influence. Blaxploitation was a brief, bombastic and highly polarizing era in the history of American film. Heralded by some as a revolution in representations of Black empowerment and by others as pandering to longstanding racial stereotypes. Indeed, it's influence on Black culture stretches beyond the 1970's and into cultural realms beyond the silver screen. While this is primarily a film course emphasizing close readings of canonical Blaxploitation cinema, we also will explore: Blaxploitation soundtracks (i.e., Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes), Black Pulp Fiction novels that inspired the films (i.e., Ernest Tidyman and Sam Greenlee), the aesthetics of Blaxploitation promotion via the Black Film Promotional Material Collection located in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections, and finally we will consider how Blaxploitation aestheticism influenced subsequent cultural movements like the 1990's renaissance in Black film, Hip-Hop and contemporary satire.
Course Attributes: BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC; FA VC

Section 01

From Shaft to Django: The History of Blaxploitation Film
INSTRUCTOR: Manditch-Prottas
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