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African American Studies

The Discipline and Its Dimensions


Nathaniel Norment, Jr.

African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is a comprehensive resource book that recounts the development of the discipline of African American Studies and provides a basic reference source for sixteen areas of knowledge of the discipline: anthropology, art, dance, economics, education, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, political science, science and technology, sports and religion. African American Studies defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, disciplinary concepts, contents, scope, topics scholars have concerned themselves, as well as the growth, development, and present status of the discipline. African American Studies validates that African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline—one that intersects almost every academic discipline and cultural construct—and confirms that the discipline has a noteworthy history and a challenging future. The various bodies of knowledge, the philosophical framework, methodological procedures, and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline have never been clearly delineated from an African-centered perspective.

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14. African American Film


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African American Film

Nkyinkyin “Twisting” Changing one’s self; playing many roles

The African Antecedent

The history of film in the context of the modern era is essentially the history of moving pictures. Moving pictures are articulations of representative images. In the African context moving pictures were not necessarily the medium by which representative imaging would take place, however this does not deny the existence of modes of representation that made sense to Africans. In this way the tradition is entwined most prominently to the same traditions of art and literature. Africans created cultural motifs and expressions that were obvious in the ways in which art was produced and the ways in which stories were written. The objectives of these products were to provide memory, lessons and tools for survival. In the 20th century, Black filmmakers who became carriers of this tradition were able to employ the use of memory to emphasize this particular cultural influence in the new film industry.


I think it is very important that films make people look at what they’ve forgotten.

—Spike Lee

African Americans benefit from an extensive body of work produced by Black filmmakers, directors, producers, screen writers, film editors, cinematographers, and actors of the early 20th century. The brothers Noble and George Johnson1 who created The Lincoln Motion Picture Company2 and Oscar Micheaux3 laid the foundation that established a Black presence...

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