This essay underscores that film is a powerful medium that has been used to both solidify popular and scholarly images of history and radically challenge them. Slavery filmography began with all of the ugly, stereotyped characterizations and storylines one would expect of the racial nadir of the early twentieth century. A revolutionary social movement at midcentury and a profound revision in the historiography of slavery beginning in the 1970s prompted changes in the public's reception of more realistic and humanistic images of enslaved black people, their interior lives, personal worth, and strivings. This essay moves forward from the earliest films to present-day cinema and TV series offerings to demonstrate how central slavery has been to Hollywood, its portrayal of American life, and how its screen representations have reflected changes in the historiography and the nation's social realities.


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pp. 488-520
Launched on MUSE
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