White Redemption:
Cinema and the Co-optation of African American

African American Studies 162/Rhetoric 162

Tu:7:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m. (Pettingill G65) Film Screening

WF:9:30 a.m.–10:50 a.m. (Pettigrew 301) Lecture and Discussion

Charles I. Nero, Ph.D.
Pettigrew 303
x6415, cnero@bates.edu
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesday

Required Texts:

Donald Bogle. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks; An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. 1973. NY: Continuum, 1997.

James Snead. White Screens/Black Images: Hollywood From the Dark Side. NY: Routledge, 1994.

Richard Dyer. White. NY: Routledge, 2001.


20% Mid-Term Exam

25% Debate and Paper. (You need an Adobe Reader to view the Debate Guidelines.)

25% Final Exam

10% Participation and Attendance

15% For attending two (2) on-campus lectures of which race is the focus and for attending events associated with the annual Bates commemoration of Martin Luther
King, Jr.

5% For attending one on-campus (non-MLK Day) Bates Brooks Quimby Debate

Part I:
Moving Black Bodies:
Justifying the Commerce in Blacks

Week 1

T 1/7

Sankofa (Haile Gerima, 1993)


Snead, "Black Independent Film"
Dyer, Ch. 1 "The Matter of Whiteness," pp. 1-40
Dyer, Ch. 2 "Coloured White, Not Coloured," pp. 41-81


Week 2

T 1/14

Amistad (Stephen Spielberg, 1997)


Appiah, Kwame Anthony. "‘No Bad Nigger': Blacks as the Ethical Principle in the Movies."

Conrad, Edgar. "The Slave Trade." In World of Sorrow: The African Slave Trade to Brazil.

Lemisch, Jesse. "Black Agency in the Amistad Uprising: Or, You've Taken Our Cinque and Gone." Souls 1.1: (Winter 1999): 57-70.

Savage, Dan. "Savage Love," Village Voice Feb. 10, 1998, p. 151.

Week 3

T 1/21 King Kong (Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, 1933)


Snead, "Spectatorship and Capture in King Kong: The Guilty Look" and Snead, "The Kong Sequels."

Tommy Lott, "Racist Discourse and the Negro-Ape Metaphor" in The Invention of Race: Black Culture and the Politics of Representation (MA: Blackwell, 1999):

Dyer, "The Light of the World," pp. 82-144.

Week 4

T 1/28 Hoop Dreams (Stephen James, 1995)

W Cole and King, "Representing Black Masculinity and Urban Possibilities: Racism, Realism, and Hoop Dreams"

F Debate 1

Week 5

T 2/4 Xica (Carlos Diegues, 1976)

W Robert Stam, Tropical Multiculturalism: A Comparative History of Race in Brazilian Cinema and Culture. 290-296.

Gary B. Mills. "Coincoin: An Eighteenth-Century ‘Liberated' Woman." The Journal of Southern History. 42.2 (May 1976): 205-222.

F Debate 2

Part II:
White Superiority, But a Need to Imitate Blacks

Week 6

T 2/11 The Jazz Singer (directed by Alan Crosland ; scenario by Al Cohn, 1927)

W Rogin, "Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice."

Neal Gabler. An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. 139-145.

F 2/14 Mid Term Exam

Winter Recess 2/15-2/23

Week 7

T 2/25 The Little Colonel and The Littlest Rebel

W & F Snead, "Shirley Temple"
Bogle, Ch. 2 "Into the 1920: The Jesters" and Ch. 3. "The 1930s: the Servants"

Music and Lyrics to Deep River and Dixie (Adobe Acrobat reader needed to view these documents)

F Guest Lecture: Prof. Christina Malcolmson
Readings TBA

Week 8

T 3/4 Bulworth (Warren Beatty, 1998)

W Norman Mailer, The White Negro (Adobe Acrobat reader needed to view this document)

F Debate 3

Week 9

T 3/11 Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemeckis 1988)


Winokur, Mark. "Black Is White/White Is Black: ‘Passing' as a Strategy of Racial Compatibility in Contemporary Hollywood Comedy." In Lester D. Friedman,
Unspeakable Images: Ethnicity and the American Cinema. 190-211. (You need an Adobe Reader to view this article.)

Bogle, "The 1940s: the Entertainers, the New Negroes, and the Problem People," 117-158.

Friday Debate 3

Week 10

T 3/18 Boys Don't Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999)


Jennifer DeVere Brody, "Boyz Do Cry: Screening History's White Lies," Screen 43.1 (Spring 2002): 91-96.


Part III:

Friendship(?) Narratives

Week 11

T 3/25 The Defiant Ones (Stanley Kramer, 1958) and Lilies of the Field (Ralph Nelson, 1963)


Saillant, "The Black Body Erotic and the Republican Body Politic, 1720-1820" (You need an Adobe Reader to view this essay.)

Bogle, "The 1950s: Black Stars," 159-193

Friday (Revised 3/24/03) Debate 4


Omit Lethal Weapon film, Wiegman and Ames essays.

Please view Lethal Weapon (Richard Donner, 1987) for Friday. The film is on reserve in Ladd. It is available in most of the video stores in Greater L/A. Also, it is
often shown on television.


Robin Wiegman, "Black Bodies/American Commodities: Gender, Race, and the Bourgeois Ideal in Contemporary Film"

Christopher Ames, "Restoring the Black Man's Lethal Weapon: Race and
Sexuality in Contemporary Cop Films," Journal of Popular Film and Television 20.3 (Fall 1992):52-60. (You should be able to get this article on line through
Academic Search Premier)

Week 12

T 4/1 Mississippi Burning (Alan Parker, 1989)

Wednesday Robert Brent Toplin. "Mississippi Burning." History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

Kenneth O'Reilly. "Mississippi Burning: Freedom Summer 1964." In Racial Matters: The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972. New York: The Free Press, 1991.

Friday Debate 5

Final Exam Tuesday April 8, 2003 10:30 a.m.