White Screens/Black Images: James Snead and Black America in Film

Hosted by the Department of Sociology

NAB 2.14, New Academic Building


Professor Colin MacCabe

Professor Colin MacCabe


Dr Clive James Nwonka

Dr Clive James Nwonka

Professor Colin MacCabe will offer a remembrance and discussion on the relevance of James Snead's work for historical and contemporary visual representations of race, blackness and sexuality in both British and American contexts.

This discussion will mark 30 years since Snead's passing and brings together academics including Snead's former PHD supervisor, Professor Colin MacCabe.

James Snead was a professor fiction writer, and film scholar whose aca­d­e­mic work analysed lit­er­ary mod­ernism and the use of race in American film. After his death in 1989 at the age of 35, he was described by the US academic Cornel West as “among the most impor­tant Amer­i­can intel­lec­tu­als in the late 20th cen­tury.”

In his essential posthumous book White Screens/Black Images, Snead interrogates Hollywood's misleading representations of black skin, representations that promote an artificially constructed mythology in place of historical fact. By exposing the methods through which racist ideology within film operates, Snead uncovered the production of a complex code for various types of white supremacist discourse within Hollywood cinema. Here, Snead's work speaks not only to the centrality of race in Hollywood films, but to its centrality in the formation of modern American culture.

Professor Colin MacCabe is Distinguished Professor of English and Film at the University of Pittsburgh and also Visiting Professor in English and Film at UCL. He has written extensively about literature and cinema, and produced a number of films with Derek Jarman, Terence Davies, Isaac Julien and many others.

Clive James Nwonka (@CJNwonka) is Fellow in Film Studies in the Department of Sociology, LSE.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEWhiteScreens

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