Cover image for Fire & desire : mixed-race movies in the silent era
Title:
Fire & desire : mixed-race movies in the silent era
Author:
Gaines, Jane, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xvi, 359 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780226278742

9780226278759
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PN1995.9.N4 G35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

In the silent era, American cinema was defined by two separate and parallel industries, with white and black companies producing films for their respective, segregated audiences. Jane Gaines's highly anticipated new book reconsiders the race films of this era with an ambitious historical and theoretical agenda.

Fire and Desire offers a penetrating look at the black independent film movement during the silent period. Gaines traces the profound influence that D. W. Griffith's racist epic The Birth of a Nation exerted on black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux, the director of the newly recovered Within Our Gates . Beginning with What Happened in the Tunnel , a movie that played with race and sex taboos by featuring the first interracial kiss in film, Gaines also explores the cinematic constitution of self and other through surprise encounters: James Baldwin sees himself in the face of Bette Davis, family resemblance is read in Richard S. Robert's portrait of an interracial family, and black film pioneer George P. Johnson looks back on Micheaux.

Given the impossibility of purity and the co-implication of white and black, Fire and Desire ultimately questions the category of "race movies" itself.


Summary

In the silent era, American cinema was defined by two separate and parallel industries, with white and black companies producing films for their respective, segregated audiences. Jane Gaines's highly anticipated new book reconsiders the race films of this era with an ambitious historical and theoretical agenda.

Fire and Desire offers a penetrating look at the black independent film movement during the silent period. Gaines traces the profound influence that D. W. Griffith's racist epic The Birth of a Nation exerted on black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux, the director of the newly recovered Within Our Gates . Beginning with What Happened in the Tunnel , a movie that played with race and sex taboos by featuring the first interracial kiss in film, Gaines also explores the cinematic constitution of self and other through surprise encounters: James Baldwin sees himself in the face of Bette Davis, family resemblance is read in Richard S. Robert's portrait of an interracial family, and black film pioneer George P. Johnson looks back on Micheaux.

Given the impossibility of purity and the co-implication of white and black, Fire and Desire ultimately questions the category of "race movies" itself.


Author Notes

Jane M. Gaines is the Director of the Program in Film and Video and a professor in the Graduate Program in Literature as well as the Department of English at Duke University. She is the author of Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law and coeditor of Collecting Visible Evidence .


Jane M. Gaines is the Director of the Program in Film and Video and a professor in the Graduate Program in Literature as well as the Department of English at Duke University. She is the author of Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law and coeditor of Collecting Visible Evidence .


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Gaines (English, Duke Univ.; Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law) here explores the world of the silent black independent film movement from the perspective of race identity. Through an examination of the films of Oscar Micheaux, the 1903 Edison short What Happened in the Tunnel, and D.W. Griffiths's 1915 Birth of a Nation, Gaines discusses theories of identification, the concept of "passing," and, in particular, the writings of film theorist Christian Metz. Nontheorist readers might find Gaines's more philosophical sections daunting, but they add significantly to the understanding of the reactivity of black film during the silent era. A welcome addition to the growing library of "race film" monographs, including Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence's Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films, and His Audiences (LJ 7/00) and J. Ronald Green's Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux (LJ 7/00), this is recommended for all film studies collections.DAnthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal Review

Gaines (English, Duke Univ.; Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law) here explores the world of the silent black independent film movement from the perspective of race identity. Through an examination of the films of Oscar Micheaux, the 1903 Edison short What Happened in the Tunnel, and D.W. Griffiths's 1915 Birth of a Nation, Gaines discusses theories of identification, the concept of "passing," and, in particular, the writings of film theorist Christian Metz. Nontheorist readers might find Gaines's more philosophical sections daunting, but they add significantly to the understanding of the reactivity of black film during the silent era. A welcome addition to the growing library of "race film" monographs, including Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence's Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films, and His Audiences (LJ 7/00) and J. Ronald Green's Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux (LJ 7/00), this is recommended for all film studies collections.DAnthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on Film Dates
Introduction
The "Race" in Race Movies
1 "Green Like Me"
2 Desiring Others
3 Race Movies: All-Black Everything
4 World-Improving Desires
5 Fire and Desire
6 The Body's Story
7 Race/Riot/Cinema
Conclusion
Mixed-Race Movies
Notes
Index"
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on Film Dates
Introduction
The "Race" in Race Movies
1 "Green Like Me"
2 Desiring Others
3 Race Movies: All-Black Everything
4 World-Improving Desires
5 Fire and Desire
6 The Body's Story
7 Race/Riot/Cinema
Conclusion
Mixed-Race Movies
Notes
Index"

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