Black American Cinema  book cover
1st Edition

Black American Cinema

Edited By

Manthia Diawara

ISBN 9780415903974
Published August 18, 1993 by Routledge
336 Pages

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Book Description

This is the first major collection of criticism on Black American cinema. From the pioneering work of Oscar Micheaux and Wallace Thurman to the Hollywood success of Spike Lee, Black American filmmakers have played a remarkable role in the development of the American film, both independent and mainstream.

In this volume, the work of early Black filmmakers is given serious attention for the first time. Individual essays consider what a Black film tradition might be, the relation between Black American filmmakers and filmmakers from the diaspora, the nature of Black film aesthetics, the artist's place within the community, and the representation of a Black imaginary. Black American Cinema also uncovers the construction of Black sexuality on screen, the role of Black women in independent cinema, and the specific question of Black female spectatorship. A lively and provocative group of essays debate the place and significance of Spike Lee

Of crucial importance are the ways in which the essays analyze those Black directors who worked for Hollywood and whose films are simplistically dismissed as sell-outs, to the Hollywood "master narrative," as well as those "crossover" filmmakers whose achievements entail a surreptitious infiltration of the studios. Black American Cinema demonstrates the wealth of the Black contribution to American film and the complex course that contribution has taken.

Contributors: Houston Baker, Jr., Toni Cade Bambara, Amiri Baraka, Jacquie Bobo, Richard Dyer, Jane Gaines, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ron Green, Ed Guerrero, bell hooks, Phyllis Klotman, Ntongele Masilela, Clyde Taylor, and Michele Wallace.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Black Aesthetics; Chapter 1 Black American Cinema, Manthia Diawara; Chapter 2 “Twoness” In the Style of Oscar Micheaux, J. Ronald Green; Chapter 3 Fire and Desire, Jane Gaines; Chapter 4 Oscar Micheaux, Thomas Cripps; Chapter 5 The Black Writer in Hollywood, Circa 1930, Phyllis Klotman; Chapter 6 Is Car Wash a Musical?, Richard Dyer; Chapter 7 The Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers, Ntongela Masilela; Chapter 8 Reading the Signs, Empowering the Eye, Toni Cade Bambara; Chapter 9 Spike Lee at the Movies, Amiri Baraka; Chapter 10 Spike Lee and the Commerce of Culture, Houston A. Jr. Baker; Chapter 11 The Ironies of Palace-Subaltern Discourse, Clyde Taylor; Chapter 12 Looking for Modernism, Henry Louis Jr. Gates; Part 2 Black Spectatorship; Chapter 13 Black Spectatorship, Manthia Diawara; Chapter 14 The Harlem Theater, Dan Streible; Chapter 15 The Black Image in Protective Custody, Ed Guerrero; Chapter 16 The Construction of Black Sexuality, Jacquie Jones; Chapter 17 Race, Gender and Psychoanalysis in Forties Film, Michele Wallace; Chapter 18 Reading through the Text, Jacqueline Bobo; Chapter 19 The Oppositional Gaze, Bell Hooks;

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Manthia Diawara is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.


"Manthia Diawara's Black American Cinema shows how refreshingly far away from decorous consensus the field of Black cinema study is today, in a varied and provocative montage of opinions, personal histories, position statements, and historical criticism."

-- Journal of Communication, Summer 1995

"...essays in Black American Cinema make the book a worthy addition to the small shelf of Black cinema criticism."

-- Journal of Communication, Summer 1995

"...In attempting to plug the vast academic gaps in my knowledge, this seminal collection of essays from the AFI [American Film Institute] readers series proved invaluable. In the preface Diawara talks about addressing both “a black film aesthetic by focusing on the black artist” and “the thorny issue of film spectatorship”. This authoritative volume covers film-makers from Oscar Micheaux to Spike Lee, and is as relevant now as it was when first published."             

-- Mark Kermode, The Guardian