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Home > Academics > Undergraduate > Ethnic Studies >
Ethnic Studies
Course Description

Ethnic Studies 114
African Diasporic Representations in Film

This course will examine the changing representations of Africa, African Americans and other people of African descent in film from anti-imperialist and feminist perspectives. In Part I, we will explore the historical context and ideological motivation behind stereotypical images of African Americans, starting with Birth of a Nation. In Part II, we will undertake a survey of diverse genres of African American film, including “race moves”, “blaxploitation”, “hood movies” and interventions by emerging feminist and gay male filmmakers. Part III focuses on diverse African and diasporic contexts, through a discussion of films from Britain, the Caribbean and the African continent. We will examine the struggle to create an authentic Caribbean and African voice in the context of postcolonial politics and global economics. We will also explore the significance of “Nollywood” and examine emerging themes in arts and popular African films.

The course will involve a rigorous theoretical interrogation of the following themes: i) the relationship between historical, political, economic and social phenomena and cinematic representations; ii) intersections between race, gender and sexuality; and iii) African and diasporic subjectivity and the politics of representation. The course will be interactive in its focus including small group discussions, and discussion of films and assigned readings. Please note, we will watch excerpts of films in class. It is recommended that you watch the films in their entirety outside of the classroom. Forming a small study group to watch and discuss the films is an excellent way to practice your critical analytical skills and have fun at the same time!

Prerequisites: ETHS 51 or 52 or HIST 151
Meets the following General Education requirements: Creating and Critiquing Arts, and Behaviour, Multicultural Perspectives. 

Cham, Mbye (ed.), Ex-iles: Essays on Caribbean Cinema, Africa World Press, 1992.

Guerrero, Ed, Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film, Temple University Press, 1993.

Reid, Mark, Redefining Black Film, UC Press, 1993.

Other readings will be available on intranet.

Class Attendance and Participation: 5%
Research Question and Bibliography: 10%
Human Subjects Protocol: 15%
Midterm Examination: 25%
Paper proposal: 20%
Final Paper: 25%


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Last Updated: 6/22/17