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The Department of Communication and Media offers many kinds of events, most free and open to the public. We organize and sponsor numerous lectures, workshops and conferences over the course of the academic year. Our programming covers a wide range of topics and features presenters from diverse disciplines and is designed to foster an understanding of the mass media and emerging media.


FALL 2016 COMMUNICATION & MEDIA SPEAKER SERIES Racializing Redemption: The Content and Characters of White Savior Films

Matthew W. Hughey, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut
Thursday, December 1, 2016
4:00-5:30 PM
2435 North Quad Map
Recent research on the intersection of race and media representations describes a trend of progressive, even antiracist, narratives that showcase close inter-racial friendships and camaraderie on the silver screen. Films in which one character saves or helps another from some unholy or disastrous plight are common in films like Dangerous Minds (1996), Amistad (1997), The Last Samurai (2003), Freedom Writers (2007), Gran Torino (2008), Avatar (2009), The Blind Side (2009), The Help (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Free State of Jones (2016) and the list goes on. While these films present a stark change from the patently racist and on-screen segregationist history of Hollywood cinema, these films are neither racially neutral nor without racist meanings. In specific, many of these films are what critics call “White Savior Films"—cinema in which implicit and explicit racial stereotypes are employed to structure the inter-racial interactions where one character labors to redeem another. In analyzing this genre, Professor Hughey will provide an framework for understanding both why and how modern cinema naturalizes the supposed cerebral rationality, work ethic, and paternalistic morality of select white characters while it normalizes people of color as primordially connected with nature, spiritually attuned, carnally driven, and/or possessive of exotic and magical powers.

Matthew W. Hughey, PhD is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut where he also serves as Affiliate Faculty in the Africana Studies Institute and the American Studies Program. Over 2016-2017, he is a Visiting Scholar with the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.

His work focuses on the relationship between racial inequality and collective understandings of race through empirical examinations of (1) white racial identity; (2) racialized organizations; (3) mass media; (4) political engagements; (5) science and technology, and; (6) public advocacy with racism and discrimination.

Professor Hughey has published over sixty scholarly articles and seven books, which include The White Savior Film: Content, Critics, and Consumption (Temple University Press, 2014), which received the 2016 Outstanding Publication Award from the Southwest Sociological Association and White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race (Stanford University Press, 2012), which was co-winner of the Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 2014. He is also co-editor of 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today (The New Press, 2010), which received the 2011 Prevention for a Safer Society Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and in 2015-16 was reimagined as a theatrical performance for The Billie Holiday Theatre at The Center for Arts & Culture in Brooklyn, NY.

He is the recipient of both the 2014 Distinguished Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the 2016 Mentoring Excellence Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

Professor Hughey is a frequent expert witness for legal disputes involving discrimination, is an active voice in national media (such as NPR, ABC, and CNN) and has been a contributing writer to outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. He also serves on the editorial boards for Social Problems, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and he is a co-founding Associate Editor of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity—the first race-focused official journal of the American Sociological Association.
Building: North Quad
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: African American, Communication, Film, Lecture, Media, Race, Research, Sociology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Communication and Media, Department of Film, Television, and Media

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