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Art, culture and ethics in black and white

More than a century after its release in 1915, D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation remains one of the most controversial films in cinema history. Drawing together a range of scholars and practitioners, this volume reveals a continued fascination in this film as a gauge of American racism and a milestone of early cinema that allows us to recognise the complex relationship between art, culture and ethics. Through stimulating analyses and new research on its reception, both on its release and one hundred years later, this book offers fresh, engaging perspectives on Birth. Topics include the presence of African American actors in the film, the craft of Griffith’s racist dialectics, public reception of the film in the state of Virginia and re-reading promotion of the film as ‘fake news’. It traces Birth’s legacies through historical and contemporary cinema and art, demonstrating that its significance has not diminished. Vivid relationships are drawn between the film and the art of Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley. Traditions are found both upheld and challenged in film works by Oscar Micheaux, Matthew McDaniel, DJ Spooky, Nate Parker and Quentin Tarantino. In the context of ongoing struggles over racial inequities in the twenty-first century, with white supremacist activity very much a part of the contemporary world, this book thus offers relevant and productive routes into the study of Griffith’s film.

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A Black journey of Red hope
Maxim Matusevich

have seen with my eyes and heard with my ears in Russia is Bolshevism, I am a Bolshevik.’ 2 In 1932–33, the poet Langston Hughes also embarked on a journey throughout the Soviet Union. Initially conceived as a joint film venture with the Soviets to make a propaganda movie about American racism, the trip eventually evolved into a multifaceted encounter between the Soviet Union and a motley crew of young black Americans. Their responses to the country varied, ranging from the enthusiastic to the sceptical, the latter

in The Red and the Black
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Rachel Sykes
Jennifer Daly
, and
Anna Maguire Elliot

, and white apathy that remained at the margins of her previous novels, and which Christopher Lloyd, Tessa Roynon, and Emily Hammerton-Barry examine in this collection. More explicitly rooted in an examination of American racism, while giving more – though not total – attention to the Black communities excluded from Gilead, Jack provides a vital and confirmatory link between Robinson's determinedly historical fiction and a present political moment in which, she contends, ‘very irresponsible people’ court fascism to gain political power while ‘vast crowds’ convening

in Marilynne Robinson
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Culture, ‘specialness,’ and new directions
Robert M. Hendershot
Steve Marsh

, Marsh, and Ryan each examine the power of collective memory to shape the special relationship, but there are more veins of memory to be mined, and of course, memory is ever-changing. There are also many other areas of culture that deserve further investigation and analysis. Mills and Edwards both engage the importance of racial constructs and racism to Anglo-American relations, but there are innumerable questions surrounding these issues that warrant future books and articles. For example, how did American racism and segregation policies influence British evaluations

in Culture matters
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Adam Elliott-Cooper

communities, and the influence of American racisms. Thus, rather than thinking about anti-Black racism as being a distinct form of racism which can be clearly defined, we must understand that it is not only constantly changing, but intrinsically linked with a multitude of racisms which overlap, interact and converge across different social contexts. Racism never moves in straight lines or fixes itself in a clearly defined way – it is not a clean, mathematical science with boundaries and rules. Racism’s enduring power lies partly in its incoherence. Racialisation never

in Black resistance to British policing
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American horror comics as Cold War commentary and critique

Printing Terror places horror comics of the mid-twentieth century in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently and necessarily subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America’s changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s and 1950s, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The authors examine each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics are centred upon white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history. It is suitably accessible to be used in undergraduate classes.

Cathy Bergin

class. As I have mentioned, articulations of interracial class solidarity were sometimes complex in terms of the concrete conditions of American racism. But in Bolshevism these radicals identified a model of politics that presented an active role for the black working class in liberating both themselves and potentially their deluded racist white counterparts. Bolshevism, according to Domingo in The Messenger , ‘succeeded in making Soviet Russia unsafe for the mobocrats, but safe for Jews and other oppressed racial

in The Red and the Black
Scott Wilson

which it is wasteful or seems to serve no purpose, is undesirable or too desirable, Great Satan’s rage 86 useless or too useful, and in the way in which this excess affects the subject of American culture. In its vacillations concerning the images of the nigga’s excess, continually documented in the records, can be plotted the co-ordinates of the race war that supercapitalism takes as its terrain. American racism is bound up with the excess associated with the black body and what is imagined about its capacity for work, pleasure and violence. If this kind of racism

in Great Satan’s rage
Pan-African Pioneer
Gilbert M. Khadiagala

another portion, proves that there is derangement somewhere in the “economy” of leading statesmen, some “screw loose” in the commercial machinery of the world. 5 Apart from collective humiliation and degradation, Blyden personally faced similar experiences to those of his fellow blacks, as vividly demonstrated in being rejected by theological colleges in the US in 1849. While on assignment as a Liberian commissioner to the United States responsible for recruiting returnees to Africa, Blyden confronted the face of American racism, as he

in The Pan-African Pantheon
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‘Passing’ fads?: recent controversies of authenticity and authorship
Sinéad Moynihan

’s socio-economic position), the voyeurism evident in the J.T. LeRoy case betrays an underlying fascination with a demographic which, for the mainstream reading public, embodies both racial and class otherness – ‘white trash.’ As Matt Wray and Annalee Newitz remind us, the term ‘white trash’ itself is both ‘racialized (i.e., different from “black trash” or “Indian trash”) and classed (trash is social waste and detritus).’ 29 Equally, Allison Graham argues that the centrality of the ‘cracker’ to our understanding of American racism cannot … be

in Passing into the present