ReFocus: The Films of F. Gary Gray

James Harris's picture
Call for Papers
November 15, 2017
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for papers: ReFocus: The Films of F. Gary Gray Contact email:

Deadline: 15 November 2017


When his 2017 blockbuster film The Fate of the Furious immediately smashed global box office records, it was only the latest in a string of improbable accomplishments from F. Gary Gray, a director who has quietly yet consistently developed an oeuvre that defies easy classification. F. Gary Gray began his career as a sometimes actor and music video director working with hip hop artists like Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, and Outcast, before breaking into film with the cult-classic, Friday (1994). He quickly established himself as an auteur with a distinctive style and a flair for unexpected stories, from the black female-driven bank heist film Set It Off (1997), to an action-thriller about corrupt police, The Negotiator (1998). Throughout the rise and fall of the vogue for so-called “urban” films, Gray was a mainstay in Hollywood’s stable of black directors, a description his work has never shied away from. By 2015, he had officially arrived, as both an Academy Award-nominated director and a bona fide box office superstar with the success of Straight Outta Compton.

We are currently soliciting 200-250 word abstracts for essays to be included in a volume on F. Gary Gray to be published as part of the Edinburgh University Press ReFocus series, which examines overlooked American directors (series editors are Drs. Robert Singer and Gary D. Rhodes). As the first comprehensive study of Gray’s career, this volume aims to provide both context for and theoretical insight into his work. Authors are invited to interrogate any topic of their choosing, but this volume is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between film and music video production that informs Gray’s background and work as well the relationship between blackness, black culture, and mainstream success that has remained a point of contention throughout his career.

Essays may focus on:

· individual Gray-directed films: Friday (1995), Set It Off (1996), The Negotiator (1998), A Man Apart (2003), The Italian Job (2003), Be Cool (2005), Law Abiding Citizen (2009), Straight Outta Compton (2015), and The Fate of the Furious (2017)

· Gray’s background as a director of music videos

· queer of color analysis of Gray’s film

· the importance of celebrity in Gray’s films

· race, gender, and Hollywood film production

· globalism and the Fast and Furious franchise

· hip hop and misogyny in Gray’s films and/or videos

· your suggested topic


Essays included in the refereed anthology will be approximately 8,000 words, referenced in Chicago endnote style. Please send a CV and abstract to Dr. James Harris at by 15 November 2017.

Contact Info: 

Dr. James K. Harris

Department of English, Dickinson College

Contact Email: