Please join us on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at from 1:00-2:30pm in Foster 103 for the first meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop for the Spring Quarter. We are delighted to have Racquel Gates, Assistant Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. Racquel will be presenting a work in-progress titled “Beyond the Sunken Place: The Limits of Representation in Black Film and Media Studies.”
There is no pre-circulated paper for this workshop.
**Please note the special time and location of this event.**
Lunch will be provided.
We look forward to seeing you!
Yours in Mass Cult,
Gary and Cooper
“Beyond the Sunken Place: The Limits of Representation in Black Film and Media Studies”
To what extent does black representation in Hollywood exist in a state of perpetual emergency? Swinging between the two extremes of dearth of representation on the one hand, and politically regressive presence on the other, the history of the black image in film has been a simple story of conflict. From The Birth of a Nation to the whitewashing of black stories, these oppositional forces create a constant state of crisis around matters of black representation, leading to the celebration of “wins,” most often in the form of accolades, awards nominations, or even mere being. The problem with this scenario, I argue in this paper, is that this constant state of representational urgency obscures the more nuanced questions of how representation functions, what it means, and how it resonates. If we consider it a “win” for a black cast film to merely exist, where and when do scholars, critics, and fans get to ask questions about quality, taste, and emotional resonance? Or, to frame it differently, is there even space to contemplate these aspects of cinematic representation when the history of the black image has always been one of celebrating wins and trying to minimize losses?
Racquel Gates is an Assistant Professor at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. Her research focuses on blackness and popular culture, with special attention to discourses of taste and quality. She is the author of Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture (Duke, 2018) and has written numerous essays on film and media, some of which appear in Film Quarterly, Television & New Media, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.