Early Race Filmmaking in America: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Early Race Filmmaking in America

1st Edition

Edited by Barbara Lupack


250 pages | 40 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-06-07
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The early years of the twentieth century were a formative time in the long history of struggle for black representation. More than any other medium, movies reflected the tremendous changes occurring in American society. Unfortunately, since they drew heavily on the nineteenth-century theatrical conventions of blackface minstrelsy and the "Uncle Tom Show" traditions, early pictures persisted in casting blacks in demeaning and outrageous caricatures that marginalized and burlesqued them and emphasized their comic or servile behavior. By contrast, race films—that is, movies that were black-cast, black-oriented, and viewed primarily by black audiences in segregated theaters—attempted to counter the crude stereotyping and regressive representations by presenting more authentic racial portrayals. This volume examines race filmmaking from numerous perspectives. By reanimating a critical but neglected period of early cinema—the years between the turn-of-the-century and 1930, the end of the silent film era—it provides a fascinating look at the efforts of early race film pioneers and offers a vibrant portrait of race and racial representation in American film and culture.

Table of Contents


[Barbara Tepa Lupack]

1. "Put Together to Please a Colored Audience": Black Churches, Motion Pictures, and

Migration at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

[Cara Caddoo]

2. The Birth of a Nation, Melodramas of Black and White, and Early Race Filmmaking

[Linda Williams]

3. The Ambitions of William Foster: Entrepreneurial Filmmaking at the Limits of Uplift Cinema

[Allyson Nadia Field ]

4. In-and-Out-of-Race: The Story of Noble Johnson

[Jane Gaines]

5. Evelyn Preer as a Vehicle of Victimization in Micheaux’s Films

[Charlene Regester]

6. Capitalizing on Race: White Producers of All-Black Cinema

[Gerald R. Butters, Jr., Ph.D.]

7. "Busting ’Em Wide Open": Richard E. Norman and the Norman Manufacturing Company

[Barbara Tepa Lupack]

8. Mediating Black Modernity: The Influence of the Race Press on Race Films

[Anna Everett]

9. The Lafayette Theater: Crucible of African-American Dramatic Arts

[Cary D. Wintz]

10. The Great Migration and the Rise of an Urban "Race Film" Culture

[Davarian L. Baldwin]

11. Race Cinema, The Transition to Sound, and Hollywood’s African-American-Cast Musicals

[Ryan Jay Friedman]

12. Preserving Race Films

[Jan-Christopher Horak]

About the Editor

Barbara Tepa Lupack, former professor of English at St. John’s University and Wayne State College and academic dean at SUNY/ESC, is author/editor of more than twenty-five books. Helm Fellow at the Lilly Library at Indiana University (2011) and Lehman Senior Scholar/Fellow at the Norman Rockwell Museum (2014-15), she is currently one of New York State’s inaugural "Public Scholars" (2015-2017).

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Film Studies

This series is our home for innovative research in the field of film studies. It includes monographs and targeted edited collections that provide new insights into this important and evolving subject area.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies