Please join the Chicago Film Seminar on Thursday, May 12 for our final meeting of the year, a talk by Jacqueline Stewart (Northwestern) on "Discovering Black Film History: Tracing the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection." Michael Martin of the The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University will respond. The meeting will take place at the University of Chicago's Film Studies Center, Cobb Hall Room 307, at 5811 S. Ellis Ave.
Thursday, May 12 at 6:30pm
5811 S. Ellis Ave, Chicago IL
Cobb Hall Room 307 - University of Chicago Film Studies Center
Jacqueline Stewart (Northwestern)
"Discovering Black Film History: Tracing the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection"
Respondent: Michael Martin (Indiana)
Stewart describes her talk as follows:
My paper revisits the “discovery” of the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection in 1983, the most highly publicized effort to preserve African American films to date. I explore the appeals and dangers of framing these early Black-cast films, or any films, within a lost-then-found narrative template, in which their acquisition by an archive provides a satisfying sense of closure. I argue that the racial politics that inform the development of the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection -- from neglected nitrate elements to new safety prints, then videotapes, DVDs and streaming digital video -- heighten our awareness of how historical preservation is always a historically contingent and ongoing set of processes. When we locate the preservation of these films in time (the Reagan era through the “post-racial” digital age) and place (a regional repository in the southwestern U.S.), we see how their status as “authentic” records of a lost Black film culture has been produced by many factors, including debates about what Black cinema is, concerns about how African American artifacts should be presented and interpreted, and changes in the U.S. film preservation landscape.
Our great thanks to Tom Gunning at the University of Chicago and to Julia Gibbs at the UC's Film Studies Center for making the arrangements for the location of this event.