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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
U.S. Public Diplomacy and the Rebuilding of America’s Image Abroad

Going against the grain of much of the scholarship on "the 70s," therefore, this book presents an array of reasons for claiming that American culture enjoyed a curious renaissance precisely because its shortcomings were most apparent. The activism and radicalism of the "other America" resonated abroad and picked up admirers along the way, even if these (often youthful) admirers were not the standard "publics" sought out by public diplomacy campaigns. The book explores this environment along two tracks which give organizing shape to our narrative. Firstly, the problems of projection. How did American cultural and information officials approach their work in the new 1970s era of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt"? Secondly, the encounters at the receiving end. How were public diplomacy programs received in various parts of the world, each often undergoing their own historic convulsions? Thirdly, the fact that America's increasingly raucous social and political diversity produced unexpected results abroad. A fourth theme concerns the changing worldwide context. U.S. public diplomacy had always maintained a global conceit and a universalist ethos. Fifth, and central to the approach of this book, is the often unrecognized but crucial fact that both ends of the transmission and reception axis are important to understand the full dynamics of public diplomacy practise. The book closely calibrates American soft power to the hard power wielded by the United States, even in this period.

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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.

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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
and
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
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
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Reasserting America in the 1970s
Hallvard Notaker
,
Giles Scott-Smith
, and
David J. Snyder

while at the 4 Reasserting America in the 1970s same time fairly representing a diffuse, pluralist, and often deeply conflicted domestic culture at home. Too determined management of public diplomacy campaigns would have invited charges of propaganda, but too little management would have left the cultural field open for accusations by critics of American racism, sexism, and materialism. These tensions were diluted somewhat in the triumphalist consensus culture of the 1940s and 1950s, but “the 70s” reveal more than ever the rich and problematic relationship between

in Reasserting America in the 1970s
Race, Civil Rights, and American Public Diplomacy, 1965–1976
Michael L. Krenn

international audience that American racism was being addressed and that most African Americans were certainly better off than people trapped under communist regimes. At the 1958 World’s Fair the “Unfinished Business” exhibit opened on the grounds of the American pavilion. The exhibit tried to honestly confront what everyone else already knew: America had a race problem. It also suggested that the United States was slowly moving toward the ultimate goal of complete integration. Southern congressmen launched furious assaults and the Eisenhower administration quickly backpedaled

in Reasserting America in the 1970s