Cover image for Writing himself into history : Oscar Micheaux, his silent films, and his audiences
Writing himself into history : Oscar Micheaux, his silent films, and his audiences
Bowser, Pearl, 1931-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxv, 288 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.3.M494 B69 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1998.3.M494 B69 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PN1998.3.M494 B69 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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This text presents an analysis of the career and artistry surrounding the legendary black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. With the exception of Spike Lee, Micheaux is the most famous and prolific African American film director. Between 1914 and 1948, he made more than 40 race pictures - movies made for and about African Americans. A man of immense creativity, he also wrote seven novels.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Although Bowser (codirector of the documentary Midnight Ramble: Oscar Micheaux and the Story of Race Movies) and Spence (media studies, Sacred Heart Univ.) focus solely on the 20 silent films Micheaux directed between 1919 and 1929, the reader gets a stronger feel for the cultural milieu of Micheaux!s work here than in Green!s book. The authors carefully interlace their own critiques of these films with contemporary African American press responses, details on moviegoing in an era of segregated cinemas, and biographical information derived from interviews with the director!s family and others involved in early African American cinema. The plentiful production stills highlight this highly readable narrative. Both books are highly recommended for all film and black studies collections as the only major press monographs to treat this sorely neglected pioneer."Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

With this fascinating and thorough study of independent pioneer Oscar Micheaux, Bowser and Spence partially redress the neglect of contributions by African American filmmakers in the silent period. The authors base this cultural study on original (and impressively exhaustive) research of Micheaux as artist and businessman and of his novels and silent films, his spectators, and the "colored" theaters that exhibited his works--weaving these vibrant threads together both to chronicle the factual history of Micheaux and his works and to draw out the emerging myth of this entrepreneur. An astute filmmaker, Micheaux exploited his own life for raw material on which to spin his narrative, and the authors reveal how he creatively resisted the racist and hypocritical trends of his day by inventing moral parables for black audiences. What is most illuminating is how the authors place the cinematic contributions of Micheaux in context of the larger black community and culture. Special insights become manifest in his analysis of two key 1920 films, Within Our Gates and The Symbol of the Unconquered. Heartily recommended for all students, fans, and researchers in film studies. T. Lindvall; Regent University

Table of Contents

Thulani Davis
Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xvii
Acknowledgmentsp. xxiii
Part 1 Oscar Micheaux
1 Writing Himself into Historyp. 3
Part 2 His Spectators
2 In Search of an Audience, Part Ip. 51
3 In Search of an Audience, Part IIp. 89
Part 3 His Texts
4 Within Whose Gates? The Symbolic and Political Complexity of Racial Discoursesp. 123
5 The Symbol of the Unconquered and the Terror of the Otherp. 156
6 Body and Soul and the Burden of Representationp. 176
Epiloguep. 209
Notesp. 223
Bibliographyp. 261
Filmographyp. 271
Indexp. 273