AJL17057 Blackness in American Film

Faculty of Arts
Spring 2025
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 6 credit(s). Recommended Type of Completion: zk (examination). Other types of completion: z (credit).
Mgr. Petra Fišerová, Ph.D. (lecturer)
doc. PhDr. Tomáš Pospíšil, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
doc. PhDr. Tomáš Pospíšil, Ph.D.
Department of English and American Studies – Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Tomáš Hanzálek
Supplier department: Department of English and American Studies – Faculty of Arts
Prerequisites (in Czech)
AJ09999 Qualifying Examination || AJ01002 Practical English II
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 12 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 0/12, only registered: 0/12, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/12
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
The aim of this course is to examine the representations of African-Americans in the American cinema as they have been developing since D.W. Griffith's 1915 racist masterpiece Birth of a Nation. Beside pointing out some inevitable stereotypes in the cinematic representation of African-Americans by the American mainstream cinema, the participants will also follow the more recent artistic attempts at challenging them and portray black characters from a different, African-American point of view.
Learning outcomes
The successful participants will:
- understand the nature of the concept of race as a social construct, created, among other things, by the media;
- be able to identify basic African American stereotypes in American culture in general and cinema in particular;
- get acquainted with notable American classics, such as Birth of a Nation or Gone with the Wind, and view them critically;
- understand the interconnectedness of the films on the syllabus and the issues they accentuate with their respective cultural contexts;
- acquire basic skills of film analysis;
- be able to produce an academic paper on the topic;
  • Week 1: Introduction to the course and topic
  • video: Ethnic Notions (Marlon Riggs, 1986)
  • Week 2: The Plantation Myth and the Civil War
  • Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915)
  • Week 3: Plantation Myth and the Civil War
  • Gone with the Wind (d. Victor Fleming, 1939) (an extract) Mandingo (d. Richard Fleischer, 1975) (an extract)
  • Week 4: “Race Movies”
  • Video: Midnight Ramble (Pearl Bowser, 1994) - Scar of Shame (Frank Perugini, 1927) - Moon over Harlem (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1939) (an extract)
  • Week 5: Hollywood’s Liberalism
  • Pinky (Elia Kazan, 1949) (an extract) Edge of the City (Martin Ritt, 1957) (an extract) Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967)
  • Week 6: "Blaxploitation"
  • Sweetback Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971) Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971) (an extract) Coffy(Jack Hill, 1973) (an extract)
  • Week 7: African American History in Film
  • Mississippi Burning (Alan Parker, 1988) Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989) Miss Evers’ Boys (Joseph Sargent, 1997)
  • Week 8: Movies and Novels The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985)
  • Beloved (Jonathan Demme, 1998) (an extract)
  • Week 9: In the City
  • Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1988) She’s Gotta Have it (Spike Lee, 1986) (an extract)
  • Week 10: “In da ghetto”
  • Boyz N the Hood (John Singleton, 1991) South Central (Steve Anderson, 1992) (an extract) Menace II Society (The Huges brothers, 1993) (an extract)
  • Week 11: African American Independents
  • Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991) To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990) (an extract)
  • Week 12: Blackness in Film in the new Millenium I
  • Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004)
  • Week 13: Blackness in Film in the new Millenium II
  • Monster’s Ball (Marc Forster, 2001)
  • Week 14: A Repetition and Summary
  • Hollywood Shuffle (Robert Townsend, 1987)
    required literature
  • Guerrero, Edward: Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film. Temple University Press, Philadelphia 1993.
  • Cripps, Thomas: Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era. Oxford University Press, New York & Oxford 1993.
    recommended literature
  • Diawara, Manthia, ed.: Black American Cinema. Routledge, AFI Readers. New York & London 1993.
  • Dash, Julie; Bambara, Toni Cade; hooks, bell: Daughters of the Dust, The Making of and African American Woman’s Film. The New Press, New York City 1992.
  • Rhines, Jesse Algernon: Black Film / White Money. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey 1996.
  • POSPÍŠIL, Tomáš. Sambo tu již nebydlí? : obraz Afroameričanů v americkém filmu 20. století. 1. vyd. Brno: Nadace Universitas Masarykiana, 2003, 152 s. ISBN 8086258459. info
    not specified
  • Smith, Valerie, ed.: Representing Blackness: Issues in Film and Video. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey 1997.
  • YOUNG, Earl James. The life and work of Oscar Micheaux : pioneer black author and filmmaker, 1884-1951. Edited by Beverly J. Robinson. 1st ed. San Francisco: KMT Publications, 2002, 258 s. ISBN 0963564579. info
  • GATES, Henry Louis. Thirteen ways of looking at a black man. First Vintage books edition. New York: Vintage books, 1998, xxvii, 226. ISBN 0679776664. info
  • HOOKS, bell. Reel to real : race, sex, and class at the movies. New York: Routledge, 1996, 244 s. ISBN 0415918243. info
Teaching methods
This course lasts one term, and ends with an essay. There will be one seminar per week. The seminar consists of student presentations, discusion of the films and assigned reading, and analysis of their cinematic features. Students missing more than two seminars per semester automatically fail the course. Please come to the seminars having read the assigned reading and having viewed the films. The standard of your preparation will be occasionally tested by means of short in-class quizzes. You may also be asked to write brief responses to the films and submit them in ELF prior to the lesson. Please note that this schedule is subject to change dependent on the specific needs of the group.
Assessment methods
Assessment: An essay, a presentation, in-class quizes, active participation
Language of instruction
Further Comments
The course is taught once in two years.
The course is taught: every week.
Teacher's information

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