EVENT Jul 30
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Urban Film's Lessons

Categories: American, Interdisciplinary, Pedagogy, Popular Culture, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy
Event Date: 2021-07-30 to 2021-08-30 Abstract Due: 2021-07-30



In 2019, the filmmaker John Singleton passed away leaving a nation to mourn his untimely death. Given his large stature in the film world, we thought it becoming to examine his indelible impact upon the world.

Best known for the 1991 hit Boyz n’ the Hood, where he was both writer and director, Boyz effectively ushered in and made us pay attention to the inner city as a film’s setting. This film gave birth to other hits like Belly (1998), Menace to Society (1993), Juice (1992), and even spawned parodies like Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996). These films characterized the inner city as a space for the proliferation of the drug trade and other criminal behavior, violence and death, poor education and illiteracy, and wanton sexuality. 

In 1915, filmmaker D.W. Griffith gave what can be considered America’s first feature film, Birth of a Nation. A century later, this film sits atop the film studies pantheon and is required viewing in many film studies classrooms. This film perhaps birthed the lasting mistrust of African Americans primarily because of the portrayal of Black men as sexually deviant and dangerous.

We are seeking chapters for an exploratory text, Afterbirth of a Nation Afterbirth of a Nation: Urban Critical Pedagogy and Ghetto-centric Film Since Boyz n the Hood under contract to be published by DIO Press (www.diopress.com). 

Essays should analyze Boyz ‘n the Hood and the host of other ghettocentric films like those listed above. Among other titles for consideration, authors may choose to write about Friday (1995) and its subsequent iterations, Training Day (2001), Above the Rim (1994), South Central (1992), He Got Game  (1998), and Dangerous Minds  (1995) among others. 


Topics for discussion may include:



Black Film and Singleton’s legacy

Significance and impact of individual films or a collective representation
Constructions of Black identity and authenticity
Themes of resistance and uplift in film

The Black Urban Experience

Threat of violence and gentrification (displacement)
Police surveillance

Black Urban Experience

Single-parent households and cycle of poverty
Significance of Black fathers and male role models
“Strong” Black single mother architype and constructions of Black female identity
Critical Urban Pedagogy

Implications for using films in social justice education
Social, cultural, and political forces within urban education that relate to teaching students

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.


Carley M. Shinault, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow in African American Studies at University of Houston. She earned her doctorate from Howard University, specializing in Black Politics and American Government. Published in Journal of African American Studies, National Political Science Review, and Phylon, Dr. Shinault’s body of research covers a range of the socio-political experience of African Americans in the United States. Her 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.com by July 30, 2021. Authors will be notified of acceptance decision by August 30, 2021.




Brian Johnson