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The Department of Art and Art History's Christensen Distinguished Lecture presents "Then a Negro, Now a Black, Still a Brother: William Greaves and the Temporalities of Black Documentary," a lecture by Jacqueline Stewart, professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago.
In 1968, prolific documentary filmmaker William Greaves produced Still A Brother: Inside the Negro Middle Class (1968) for National Educational Television (NET). The film offers complex historical and psychological analysis of the transition from "Negro" to "Black" subject positions, and how this shift maps onto the pursuits of civil rights and the American Dream. This lecture reads Still a Brother through the lenses of an earlier set of 1940s “race movies” in which Greaves appears an actor, and reflections from a recent screening and discussion of the film with a group of African American elders in Chicago. This constellation of texts and contexts offers insights into the cinematic pedagogical strategies Greaves developed (styles of performance, narration, interviewing, music selection, b-roll) in his efforts to document moments of “Black reality” across multiple and shifting landscapes of media production and Black consciousness.
Jacqueline Stewart’s research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images, and “orphan” media histories, including nontheatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. She directs the South Side Home Movie Project and is co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion Preservation Project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. She also serves as an appointee to the National Film Preservation Board. She is currently researching the racial politics of moving image preservation and is also completing a study of the life and work of African American actor/writer/director Spencer Williams. Stewart is the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity (University of California Press, 2005), which has achieved recognition from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In September 2019, Stewart was named host of Turner Classic Movies’ silent movie program, “Silent Sunday Nights,” making her the network’s first African American host.
This lecture is made possible by a generous grant from Carmen M. Christensen
Image: Director William Greaves. Continental Distributing/Photofest.