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Rethinking Griffith and racism

Stokes, M; (2015) Rethinking Griffith and racism. The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era , 14 (4) pp. 604-607. 10.1017/S1537781415000419. Green open access

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Abstract

Most years I teach a course called “American History through Hollywood Film.” One of the movies I use for teaching is The Birth of a Nation. This year, in the exam at the end of the course, I asked my students to comment on a particular clip from the film: the scene of the fight in the saloon in which the muscular white blacksmith Jeff (Wallace Reid) battles a group of African Americans and beats them all in a brawl before he is shot in the back. What I expected from the students were some comments on the linkage between alcohol and race, together with a discussion of the wider historical resonances of the sequence, particularly those associated with black boxer Jack Johnson and the attempts to find a “great white hope” able to seize his crown as, since 1908, heavyweight champion of the world. What I got were a number of further suggestions relating to class as well as race that made me want to rethink, at least to some extent, the analysis of this sequence I gave in my 2007 book.

Type: Article
Title: Rethinking Griffith and racism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S1537781415000419
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1537781415000419
Language: English
Additional information: This article has been published in a revised form in The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537781415000419. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. Copyright: © Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 2015
Keywords: Arts & humanities, history
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1511829
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