January 24th, 2020–Sasha Crawford-Holland

Please join us on Friday, January 24th 2020 from 11 am to 12:30 pm in Cobb 311.

We are delighted to welcome Sasha Crawford-Holland, PhD Student in Cinema and Media Studies, who will be presenting a draft of a paper titled “The Birth of a Nation (1915) in Canada: Anti-Americanism and Anti-Blackness during World War I.”

Jacqueline Stewart, Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College, will provide a response.

What can Canadian society’s reception of American white supremacist cinema tell us about the racial politics of Canadian nationalism? D.W. Griffith’s racist epic The Birth of a Nation (1915) took Canada by storm during a period of intense anti-Americanism. While Black Canadians protested the film in nationalist language that affirmed Canada’s myth of sanctuary, white censors, journalists, and politicians mobilized the rhetoric of Canadian exceptionalism to justify the film’s presentation. This study investigates how The Birth of a Nation’s reception in Canada agitated contradictions and reconciled them through the violent logic crystallized in the film itself. Through analyses of historical discourse in mainstream newspapers, the Black Canadian press, trade publications, and censorship documents, I argue that a nationalistic investment in the idea that Canada is utterly distinct from the United States has historically ensured the contrary.

Sasha’s document is available for download here.

**Please do not circulate without permission.**
Email either Sophie (sophielynch@uchicago.edu) or Tanya (tanyad@uchicago.edu) for the password.

We look forward to seeing you!

Yours in Mass Cult,
Sophie and Tanya


Sasha Crawford-Holland is a PhD student in the Department of Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Chicago, where he researches documentary practices and media technologies that comprise the visual culture of imperialism. His work has been published in Television & New Media and Synoptique and was awarded Screen‘s essay prize for best debut article.

January 17th, 2020: Panpan Yang

Please join us on Friday, January 17th 2020  from 4:30-6:30 pm in CWAC 152.

We are delighted to welcome Panpan Yang, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies & East Asian Languages and Civilizations who will be presenting part of her dissertation in a workshop titled “Ink on Screen, or What Animation Calls Thinking.”

W.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of English, Art History, and Visual Arts will provide a response.

Event co-sponsored with the Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia Workshop

Herdboy and the Flute (Shanghai Animation Studio, 1963). Courtesy of the China Film Archive.

This presentation reanimates the history of ink animation (水墨動畫) from the 1960s to the present. In its two golden eras, Shanghai Animation Studio produced some extremely exquisite ink animated films, such as Herdboy and the Flute (1963) and Feeling from Mountain and Water (1988). Most frames of these ink animated films, if frozen, are Chinese landscape paintings (山水畫, sometimes translated as “mountain-and-water paintings”). I show that the animated landscapes in the distinct genre of Chinese animation importune contemplation on space and time to a degree unthinkable in either live-action cinema or traditional “motionless” landscape images in painting, photography, and other media. Segueing into the recent trend of experimental ink animation, this talk also addresses how animation, in all its mobility, moves in and out of the sphere of contemporary Chinese art.


Panpan Yang is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint program in Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. She studies East Asian cinema, media, and visual arts. Her dissertation, of which today’s talk is a part, examines Chinese animation in relation to other art forms. Supported by UChicago Arts, she is also working on a work of experimental animation, which animates a series of “wave and ripple” drawings from Hamonshū, a 1903 Japanese design book by little known artist Mori Yuzan.

We look forward to seeing you!

Yours in Mass Cult,

Sophie and Tanya