Media and Culture

Media and Culture

Envisioning Freedom: Cinema and the Building of Modern Black Life

Cara Caddoo
Harvard University Press, 2014

Viewing turn-of-the century African American history through the lens of cinema, Envisioning Freedom examines the forgotten history of early black film exhibition during the era of mass migration and Jim Crow. By embracing the new medium of moving pictures at the turn of the twentieth century, black Americans forged a collective—if fraught—culture of freedom.

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The Latin American Literary Boom and U.S. Nationalism during the Cold War

Deborah Cohn
Vanderbilt University Press, 2012

During the 1960s and 1970s, when writers such as Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa entered the international literary mainstream, Cold War cultural politics played an active role in disseminating their work in the United States. Deborah Cohn documents how U.S. universities, book and journal publishers, philanthropic organizations, cultural centers, and authors coordinated their efforts to bring Latin American literature to a U.S. reading public during this period, when interest in the region was heightened by the Cuban Revolution. She also traces the connections between the endeavors of private organizations and official foreign policy goals.

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Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism

Terri Francis
Indiana University Press, 2021

Josephine Baker, the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, was both liberated and delightfully undignified, playfully vacillating between allure and colonialist stereotyping. In Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism, Terri Simone Francis examines how Baker fashioned her celebrity through cinematic reflexivity, an authorial strategy in which she placed herself, her persona, and her character into visual dialogue. Francis contends that though Baker was an African American actress who lived and worked in France exclusively with a white film company, white costars, white writers, and white directors, she holds monumental significance for African American cinema as the first truly global Black woman film star. Examining an unexplored aspect of Baker's career, Josephine Baker's Cinematic Prism deepens the ongoing conversation about race, gender, and performance in the African diaspora.

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The Politics and Poetics of Black Film: Nothing but a Man

Michael T. Martin
Indiana University Press, 2015

Nothing But a Man (Michael Roemer, 1964) tells the story of a drifter turned family man who struggles with the pressures of small-town life and the limitations placed on him and his community in the Deep South, an area long fraught with racism. Though unmistakably about race and civil rights, the film makes no direct reference to the civil rights movement. Despite this intentional absence, contemporary audiences were acutely aware of the social context for the film's indictment of white prejudice in America. To help frame and situate the film in the context of black film studies, the book gathers primary and secondary resources, including the original screenplay, essays on the film, statements by the filmmakers, and interviews with Robert M. Young, the film’s producer and cinematographer, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae and Rastafari in Japan

Marvin Sterling
Duke University Press, 2010

In Babylon East, Marvin D. Sterling traces the history of the Japanese embrace of dancehall reggae and other elements of Jamaican culture, including Rastafari, roots reggae, and dub music. Sterling provides a nuanced ethnographic analysis of the ways that many Japanese involved in reggae as musicians and dancers, and those deeply engaged with Rastafari as a spiritual practice, seek to reimagine their lives through Jamaican culture. He illuminates issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class as he discusses topics ranging from the cultural capital that Japanese dancehall artists amass by immersing themselves in dancehall culture in Jamaica, New York, and England, to the use of Rastafari as a means of critiquing class difference, consumerism, and the colonial pasts of the West and Japan.

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Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society
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