Thursday / September 19, 2019 / 4:15 p.m.
Landis Cinema, Buck Hall

“Double Negative: Taste, Politics, and Genre in Black Popular Culture”
Prof. Racquel Gates, Cinema and Media Studies, CUNY

The first talk of the FAMS Speaker Series for Fall 2019 examines the idea of a “negative” racial representation. Rather than fall back on oft-cited claims that these types of images are damaging to black progress, I argue that these representations—found in popular film and television—have been chronically overlooked and woefully underestimated. These images eschew respectability politics in favor of emotionally affective, sometimes excessive, contemplations of life, love, and the daily experiences of blackness. Combining close textual readings with theoretical analysis, this talk celebrates those types of black images located in the figurative “gutter” of taste politics, and calls for a new approach to the study of black popular culture.

Free for all! No tickets required.


About Dr. Gates
Racquel Gates received her Ph.D. in Screen Cultures from Northwestern University after getting her M.A. from the University of Chicago and her B.S. from Georgetown University. She specializes in African American media, particularly representations of race in popular film and television. Her dissertation, Acting White: African Americans, Whiteface, and Post-Civil Rights Popular Culture, examines how African-American performances of whiteface in the post-Civil Rights era operate as a means of strategically navigating shifting tropes of blackness across time. In addition to film and media theory, Dr. Gates’ research also incorporates gender, queer, and critical race theories. She is assistant professor of cinema and media studies at CUNY. Her publications include:

“Keeping it Real(ity) Television.” In Watching While Black (edited by Beretta Smith-Shomade). Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012.

“Bringing the Black: Eddie Murphy and African American Humor on Saturday Night Live.” In Saturday Night Live Anthology (edited by Ron Becker, Nick Marx, and Matt Sienkiewicz), 2013.

“You Can’t Turn a Ho into a Housewife: Basketball Wives and the Politics of Wifedom.” In Media Res. September 26, 2011.

“Reclaiming the Freak: Michael Jackson as Media Spectacle.” In Velvet Light Trap, Issue 65, Austin: University of Texas Press, March 2010.

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