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A timeline
Jenny Barrett

The following list is a compilation of selected publications, films and events that comprise part of the ongoing discourse on The Birth of a Nation , what Janet Staiger in 1992 called ‘the continuing history of the reception’ of the film (p. 139). While it may include some items that refer to the film’s original reception, the term is used here to refer not only to

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
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.

Jonathan Ward

This chapter examines the function and representation of the White Saviour in D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915), as well as thinking about the particular legacy of this figure as seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2012). In terms of filmic representation and racial ideologies, the White Saviour is an example of Griffith’s legacy that is

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
D. W. Griffith’s art and the African American actor
Corin Willis

Discussions of The Birth of a Nation are often dominated by the topic of blackface. Although D. W. Griffith used blackface as the primary means of depicting Black characters, it is also the case that African American actors are prominently visible at various points in the film. This is not often acknowledged. Clyde Taylor’s observation, for example, that Griffith

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
E. James West

. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (hereafter Birth ), an epic retelling of the Civil War and Reconstruction era. From the film’s title cards, its dramatic score, compelling narrative and extraordinary production values held viewers transfixed. Karl Brown, Griffith’s assistant cameraman and one of the many people involved in the production who attended the Los Angeles premiere, snuck into the theatre

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Abstract only
The legacy of The Birth of a Nation
Ian Scott
Douglas Field
, and
Jenny Barrett

emerged and tastes changed. Griffith’s style of filmmaking was as much a contributory factor to his decline at this stage as was his association with what was even then American cinema’s most notorious movie, The Birth of a Nation (1915). Despite a foray into talkies – most notably with Abraham Lincoln (1930), almost a complementary piece, some called it a corrective, to Birth – he faded from

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Nate Parker, D. W. Griffith and the tangled legacies of The Birth of a Nation
Lydia J. Plath

In 2014, Black filmmaker Nate Parker explained that his upcoming film The Birth of a Nation , which would depict the Southampton Rebellion, an insurrection of enslaved people led by Nat Turner (played by Parker) in Virginia in 1831, was not simply ‘a story about a black guy that killed white people’. 1 Instead, he saw his film – which was released in 2016 to great

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
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The Birth of a Nation and the temporalities of race
Robert J. Corber

or traitors but as patriotic Americans who were defending the Constitution at a moment of national crisis. One way scholars might approach The Birth of a Nation is as the cinematic equivalent of these monuments. Made in the same period in which many of the monuments were built, The Birth of a Nation shared the same ideological goal. As has been well documented, Griffith set out to rewrite the

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
A southern community’s response to The Birth of a Nation
Van Dora Williams

film, The Birth of a Nation ( Birth ), as it made its way across the country thrilling audiences and causing protests from Black and white communities. 2 Johnson and other notable critics of D. W. Griffith’s film were deeply concerned with the lack of historical truth about Reconstruction, the misrepresentation of the Black community, and the impact of the film on

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Oliver C. Speck

A ‘truthful’ reconstruction The first title card of The Birth of a Nation hyperbolically asserts the film’s status as an artistic masterpiece: A Plea For The Art of the Motion Picture: We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation