On the occasion of the Amazon Studios release of Barry Jenkins’s The Underground Railroad, a ten-episode adaption of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel, FQ board member and frequent contributor Michael Gillespie convened a roundtable with scholars whose work is deeply attentive to the art of blackness, especially regarding literature, television, and cinema. Walton M. Muyumba, Samantha N. Sheppard, and Kristen J. Warner each offers a distinct assessment of the series as critical provocation and aesthetic practice while also posing necessary and difficult questions about conceptions of history, culture, visuality, narrative form, temporality, and—not least—the media industries. Together, these scholars share their thoughts on the complications and import of the series as part of what is sure to be an ongoing consideration of its meanings and methods.
Thinking about The Underground Railroad: With Walton M. Muyumba, Samantha N. Sheppard, and Kristen J. Warner
Michael Boyce Gillespie is a film professor at The City College of New York and The Graduate Center, CUNY. His research and writing focuses on black visual and expressive culture, film theory, visual historiography, popular music, and contemporary art. He is the author of Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film (Duke University Press, 2016) and co-editor (with Lisa Uddin) of Black One Shot, an art criticism series on ASAP/J. His recent writing has appeared in Film Comment, The Criterion Collection, ASAP/J, and Ends of Cinema.
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Michael Boyce Gillespie; Thinking about The Underground Railroad: With Walton M. Muyumba, Samantha N. Sheppard, and Kristen J. Warner. Film Quarterly 1 December 2021; 75 (2): 19–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2021.75.2.19
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