Call for Chapters: Afterbirth of a Nation Afterbirth of a Nation: Urban Critical Pedagogy and Ghetto-centric Film Since Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Brian Johnson's picture

An hundred years after the release of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, the film remains on the list of the best films of all time. It is standard as a part of film studies’ curricula. A box office success, Birth popularized countless filmmaking techniques that remain central to the art today. Yet, despite it’s commercial and artistic notoriety, Birth of a Nation is not immune to the controversy of being one of the most racist films ever. It celebrates the rise of the KKK while demonizing black men during America’s Reconstruction. The negative effects of its treatment of black men have had a lasting legacy on public sentiment towards racial minorities. It has been dogged mostly for its depictions of black men [white men in blackface] as violent and sexually deviant with a thirst for white female flesh.


In 1991, director John Singleton released Boyz n the Hood, a critically acclaimed film that brought the gritty life of the inner city to Hollywood’s movie screens.   Boyzhas been celebrated for its authentic depictions of gang violence and the realities of poverty for urban black youth. Boyz introduced us to John Singleton and can be counted as his singular, greatest work earning him an Oscar nod and much fanfare. 


Ever on the path to follow Boyz’ success, filmmakers have chosen the inner-city as the setting for films featuring African-American casts, This text intends to inspire critical reflection and analysis of critically-significant films set in urban environments released after Boyz n the Hoodboth as a way to understand Singleton’s impact and legacy but also to critically exam the ghetto-centric genre for its value for impacting to critical urban pedagogy.


Recently, the world lost John Singleton following his untimely death from a massive stroke. This edited collection intends to examine Singleton’s post-Boyz legacy and to invite critical reflection on urban film. 


Topics for discussion may include (but are not specifically restrictive):


--Individual films or a collective representation

--Race and racial identity

--Implications for using themes films in social justice education

--Gentrification and poverty

--Roles of fathers and male role models

--The myth of the “strong” black single mother

-- The social, cultural, and political forces within urban education that relate to teaching students of color

--Themes of resistance and uplift

--Role(s) of teachers, principals, school administrators, and other authority figures

--Examinations of structural and/or systemic racism


The collection is under contract with DIO Press.


About the editors:


Brian C. Johnson, PhD, is an independent scholar focused on the intersections of film, popular culture and society. Johnson earned the PhD in Communications Media and Instructional Technology from Indiana University of PA. He is the author of Reel Diversity: A Teacher’s Sourcebook (2008), winner of the 2009 book award from the National Association for Multicultural Education. He also co-edited Glee and New Directions for Social Change (2015) and edited The Problematic Tyler Perry (2016). In 2018, he and James Vines published Reel Big Bullies: Teaching to the Problem.


Shinault, Carley M., PhD


Dr. Shinault is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bloomsburg University.  She earned her doctorate from Howard University, specializing in Black Politics and American Government.  Her dissertation, When the Black Bourgeoisie Meets the Truly Disadvantaged: Intra-Racial Politics of Class and Residential Space in Prince George’s County, MD, explores the social and political impact of Washington, DC’s gentrification and revitalization on the city’s bordering suburban communities.  The research blends quantitative and qualitative analysis to highlight demographic characteristics of the Districts migration patterns, class tensions within the black community, and challenges to current housing policy initiatives.  Dr. Shinault’s current research interests include the social and political impact of class stratification within the black community, gentrification, public opinion, and black feminist theory.



Double-spaced proposals and abstracts (250-500-words limit) should be sent to ghettocentricfilms@gmail.comby October 1, 2019. 1st draft of accepted chapters should be received by January 15, 2020. Final papers will be expected in the spring of 2020.