Voices & Visions in Black Media

About Voices and Visions in Black Media

Voices & Visions in Black Media surveys the diverse landscape of Black media practices and scholarship, engaging and critically exploring the world of blackness on screen and/or behind the camera and features leading scholars in cinema and media studies.

Fall 2023 & Spring 2024

Film series: Voices & Visions in Black Media: Centering New Directions in Nollywood

This year’s screening program is curated by Rejoice Abutsa, a doctoral student in the Department of Performing and Media Arts, and is dedicated to new directions in Nollywood. The series will feature three films that reflect the diverse output of the Nigerian film industry and highlight the work of several of its key contributors.

Fall 2018

Racquel Gates

Racquel Gates (September 2018)

Racquel Gates is an Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. Racquel Gates received her Ph.D. in Screen Cultures from Northwestern University and has an M.A. in Humanities from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. 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), where she argues that some of the most disreputable representations of black people in popular media can strategically pose questions about blackness, black culture, and American society in ways that more respectable ones cannot. Her work appears in both academic as well as popular publications, some of which include Film Quarterly, Television & New Media, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Root, as well as other journals and collections. 

Bambi Haggins

Bambi Haggins (September 2018)

Haggins is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of "Laughing Mad: The Black Comic Persona in Post-Soul America" (Rutgers University Press, 2007).

Fall 2017

TreaAndrea Russworm smiling, sitting on a bench outdoors

TreaAndrea Russworm (November 2017)

TreaAndrea Russworm (University of Massachusetts–Amherst) spoke on "The Bits and Bytes of Blackness: On Race, Simulation, and Digital Games" on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.

An Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Russworm teaches classes on video games, digital cultural studies, and African American popular culture. She is the author of Blackness is Burning: Civil Rights, Popular Culture, and the Problem of Recognition (Wayne State University Press, 2016) and a co-editor of From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (University of Mississippi Press, 2016) and Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games (Indiana University Press, 2017). She is currently writing a fourth book on race, technology, and the politics of play.

Kristen Warner

Kristen Warner (October 2017)

Warner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama and is the author of "The Cultural Politics of Colorblind TV Casting" (Routledge, 2015).

Spring 2016

Jacqueline Stewart

Jacqueline Stewart (April 2016)

"Acting Right: Performing Black Performance in the Films of Spencer Williams"

Jacqueline Stewart is a professor at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images, and “orphan” media histories, including nontheatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. She directs the South Side Home Movie Project and is co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion Preservation Project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. She also serves as an appointee to the National Film Preservation Board. She is currently researching the racial politics of moving image preservation and is also completing a study of the life and work of African American actor/writer/director Spencer Williams. Stewart is the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, which has achieved recognition from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She participated in the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship Program, offered by Northwestern University, and the OpEd Project.  

Allyson Field

Allyson Nadia Field (April 2016)

"Aesthetics of Confrontation: The L.A. Rebellion as Third Cinema in the First World."

Allyson Nadia Field is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her scholarship contributes to evolving areas of study that investigate the functioning of race and representation in interdisciplinary contexts surrounding cinema. Her primary research interest is in African American film, both silent era cinema and more contemporary filmmaking practices, and is unified by two broad theoretical inquiries: how film and visual media shape perceptions of race and ethnicity, and how these media have been and can be mobilized to perpetuate or challenge social inequities. Her work is grounded in sustained archival research, integrating that material with concerns of film form, media theory, and broader cultural questions of representation.

She is the author of Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film & The Possibility of Black Modernity (Duke University Press, 2015). Uplift Cinema excavates and explores the emergence of Black filmmaking practices in the period prior to D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) and the proliferation of race cinema that began in the late teens. Her research interests extend to Blaxploitation and African American film culture of the 1970s, nontheatrical film, orphan and ephemeral media, studio-era Hollywood cinema, and contemporary media cultures. She is currently working on a book project on actor and filmmaker Noble Johnson, considered the first Black movie star—a project that argues for an alternative history of the racial politics underlying American studio-era cinema, going beyond a black-white binary of race and national identity. She is also co-editing an essay collection with Marsha Gordon on race and nontheatrical film.

Miriam Petty

Miriam Petty (April 2016)

“…the first actor who has caused me to thank God for the talkies…” Stepin Fetchit and the Performance of “Black Sound”

Miriam Petty is an assistant professor in the Department of Radio, Television + Film at Northwestern University. She has taught and lectured widely on film, African American literature, and Black popular culture. A 2006–2009 fellow of Princeton University’s Society of Fellows, her recent projects include Race.Place.Space., a documentary film festival in Trenton, New Jersey, that she curated on behalf of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies. She was also a Geraldine R. Dodge Fellow at Rutgers-Newark’s Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, for which she developed and implemented "Watching Carefully," a two-year city initiative geared toward the improvement of media literacy among adults and children. Her book Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood (University of California Press), explores the complex relationships between black audiences and black performers in the classical Hollywood era. Petty’s courses include African American Stardom, Introduction to Film Noir, and The Authorship of Tyler Perry.