The year 2015 marks the centenary of the release of D.W. Griffith’s troubling cinematic masterpiece, The Birth of a Nation. Based on Thomas Dixon’s racist novel The Clansman, Griffith raised the stakes of the cinematic arts through highly developed editing approaches and other technical advances. At the same time, the film retains many of the racist portrayals found in the novel. This raises questions about the relations of aesthetics and ethics, about visual representation, and about the ongoing connections of race and religions in the United States. This session will explore the film, its cultural context, and its aftermath by exploring related artistic productions and cultural movements connected with the film.
I’ll be presenting on the birth and decline of the Klan’s nation.