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AFR 351
Spirits of Rebellion: The L.A. Rebellion Filmmakers Fall 2020 (also offered Spring 2021)
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ENGL 357 / AFR 351 / AMST 359

Class Details

When BeyoncĂ© unveiled the Lemonade visual album in 2016, her production captured the artistic spirit and gave new life to an earlier work: Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991), a luminous film about three generations of the Gullah people and the first motion picture by a Black woman to obtain wide theatrical release in the United States. Many, however, are unaware of the decades-long cinematic movement to which Dash belongs. In this course, we will devote our critical inquiry to the creative output of the L.A. Rebellion, a group of Black cinematic artists trained at the UCLA Film and Television School between the 1960s and 1990s. Our visual journey will take us through a diverse set of filmmakers like Charles Burnett, Ben Caldwell, Barbara McCullough, Julie Dash, Zeinabu irene Davis, Haile Gerima, Alile Sharon Larkin, Billy Woodberry, among many, many others, and how they sought to not only redefine the Black image on-screen but also reimagine the infinite possibilities of Blackness. We will pay close attention to the heterogeneity of genres, styles, and techniques that they put into practice from narrative to neorealism to documentary to avant-garde/experimental to African and African American musical and storytelling traditions. We will explore the various social and political issues that were represented by their films including: racial and class oppression, Black feminisms, Black Power, Afrocentrism, anti-colonialism and decolonization, police brutality and mass incarceration, radical social movements and coalition building, and the importance of community-based art and film practices. Finally, we will touch upon some of the recent works that have been inspired by the L.A. Rebellion, including the aforementioned Lemonade and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016). Our viewership will be supplemented with readings in Black social and cultural criticism.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1964
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly online journal responses (1-2 pages); midterm essay (5-7 pages); final project
Prerequisites: AMST 101 and/or 301, critical studies in race and ethnicity or cultural studies, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 357 Division I AFR 351 Division II AMST 359 Division II
DPE Notes: This course contributes to the Difference, Power, and Equity designation by examining the social, political, cultural, and historical forces that contribute to Black cinematic representation.

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