Course Instructor Days Times Room
ENGL4640 PAVLIC, EDWARD M 3 :35 PM 0207


ENGLISH 4640: Black Sounds Matter: Black Music in Modern and Contemporary Film

Course Description: This course surveys and explores the many roles that African American music has played in US and world cinema. We'll watch for the way the positioning of black music in films works formally within the works themselves but, we'll also look closely at the politics implied (or even confessed) by such positioning in its historical era. 

We’ll touch upon historical, classic Hollywood films that used black music and musicians in soundtracks and scores as well as feature films in which black musicians played character roles. We'll examine how the depth and sophistication of black music's role in film resonates with the social and political movements in each decade between WWII and the 21st century. 

Films featured will include: 

Arthur Lubin's New Orleans (1947), Elia Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Louis Malle’s 1959 Ascenseur pour l’échafaud or Elevator to the Gallows, Martin Ritt's Paris Blues (1961), Michael Roemer’s Nothing But A Man (1963), Leo Penn's A Man Called Adam (1966), Sidney Furie's Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Joseph Manduke's Cornbread Earl and Me (1975), Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1978), Katheen Collins’ Losing Ground (1982), Spike Lee's film from the 1980s (1986 She’s Gotta Have It, 1988 School Daze, 1989 Do The Right Thing)Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger (1990), Jennie Livinsgton’s Paris is Burning, (1990), Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust (1991), Leslie Harris’s Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992), Quentin Tarantino's films from the mid-90s ( 1994 Pulp Fiction and 1997 Jackie Brown), and Theodore Witcher's Love Jones (1996). We'll finish the class looking at new directions in black music's role in films in the 21st century screening and discussing films such as Fatih Akin and Adam Bousdoukos’s Soul Kitchen (2009), Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless City (2009), Barry Jenkins's Medicine for Melancholy (2009), Terence Nance's An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012) and Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere (2012).