"How Shall We Put Ourselves in Touch with Reality?" On Baldwin, Film, and Acknowledgment

Social Research: An International Quarterly 87 (4):991-1021 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

What might film’s contribution be to the work of acknowledgment, apology, and moral repair? James Baldwin's 1976 book on film, The Devil Finds Work, can be read as a reflection on the role that film might play in the extensive, multi-dimensional, public task of, as he puts it, putting ourselves in touch with reality, specifically the reality of American racism as an integral to American reality, its past and present. Developing Baldwin's thought, this paper outlines two broad types of cinematic pictures or conceptions of racism: (1) films can present racism as a special event, or (2) films can present racism as a pervasive, structural reality. The former is complicit in a racist ideology that pictures racism as exceptional, rare, and unusual; the latter functions to critique such an ideology by picturing racism, not as a departure from the norm, but as constitutive of it. I develop a formal account of these cinematic pictures or conceptions through close analysis of two films made three years apart: Norman Jewison’s 1967 In the Heat of the Night (which Baldwin also analyses) and Michael Roemer’s 1964 film Nothing But a Man.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Reality of Film: Theories of Filmic Reality.Richard Rushton - 2011 - Distributed in the United States Exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan.
Metaphor and Film.Trevor Whittock - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
A New/Old Ontology of Film.Rafe McGregor - 2013 - Film-Philosophy 17 (1):265-280.
The Ontology of Film.Julie N. Books - 2002 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Film Art from the Analytic Perspective.Deborah Knight - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 357-379.
The Sonic Art of Film and the Sonic Arts in Film.John Dyck - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 801-821.

Analytics

Added to PP
2021-06-15

Downloads
81 (#152,156)

6 months
23 (#50,410)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Francey Russell
Barnard College

Citations of this work

Add more citations

References found in this work

[Book review] the racial contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
Racism, Ideology, and Social Movements.Sally Haslanger - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (1):1-22.
Making Amends.Linda Radzik - 2004 - American Philosophical Quarterly 41 (2):141-54.

Add more references