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Black Camera

Call for Submissions

Fugitivity and the Filmic Imagination

Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up devoted to Fugitivity and the Filmic Imagination.

Drawing from the work of Frank B. Wilderson III, Saidiya Hartman, Daphne A. Brooks, and Nathaniel Mackey, among others, one can define fugitivity as a critical category exploring the artful escape of objectification, whether objectification occurs through racialized aesthetic framing, commodification, or juridico-political discipline. Artfulness results from “the act of fleeing,” which is “an existential act of self-creation,” fostering alternative spaces, ethics, and structures of feeling in the name of being otherwise. Juridico-political discipline targets such ways of being because they indict current moralities. Fugitivity entails a critique of violence, engaging the forces sustaining, resisting, or overturning the status quo, and imagining a “free state, not as the time before captivity” but as an “anticipated future” still to be enacted.

Fugitivity is irreducible to a single genre because it inspires the literary and audio-visual experimentation that founds genres. Scholars have used the fugitive slave as a heuristic for exploring this experimentation across genres. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave have caused debate over film’s aesthetic (in)capability to engage the historical complexities of black fugitivity. This debate will continue with several other films on slavery slated for 2013 and 2014, including Savannah, Something Whispered, Belle, and Tula, setting the stage for future film criticism. These new films urge a reconsideration of films like Burn!, Sankofa, or The Legend of Nigger Charley 150 years after Emancipation in the United States.

The Close-Up ponders whether American mainstream and/or independent cinema engages or disavows black fugitivity as the imaginative condition for film; a reassessment of the frameworks are most generative for exploring black fugitivity’s complexities; and a rethinking of how online social media informs the discourses that shape the filmic imagination.

Are filmic representations of fugitivity necessarily a foregone conclusion because of the deficit in historical knowledge about slavery, the reproduction of auteur fantasies, and the formidable nature of a neoliberal cultural agenda? Do these critical realities foretell the end of a fugitive imagination with an extensive history? Do they mark film’s disavowal of race and fugitivity at the genre’s overdetermined origin? Or will this string of films avow, even contradictorily, the ongoing relevance of fugitivity? What new or previously underutilized concepts, methodologies, and cultural histories can make filmic fugitivity visible and audible? Topics include but are not limited to

  • How do current debates films about slavery privilege historical realism? How does historical realism counter or complement Neoliberalism’s cultural agenda? Might an expanded genre criticism broaden and deepen the conversation?
  • How do the current string of films on slavery dis/avow their place in the production chain of the mainstream American film industry?
  • Might a form of ensemble criticism reveal productive tensions within film, since film emerges from a shared and fraught vision, based on convergent and divergent efforts of several contributors? Or does black fugitivity abide auteur criticism’s safe limits?
  • How do filmic representations of black fugitivity open or foreclose analyses of gender and sexuality? What are its implications today, when women’s rights and the feminist traditions that uphold them are under attack?
  • What are the roles of intellectuals in fostering public discourse on slavery and black fugitivity in popular culture?
  • Might filmic fugitivity pose new theorizations of class conflict in the United States when bare life             becomes synonymous with indebted life and individualized risk sparks collective malaise and outrage?

Contact James Ford at to discuss potential articles or submit completed articles. Articles will be 6,000–8,000 words. Interviews are welcome. Completed materials must be submitted by August 1, 2014.


General Call for Submissions

In conjunction with Indiana University Press, the Black Film Center/Archive (BFC/A) at Indiana University, Bloomington, is pleased to announce the publication of Black Camera, an academic and peer-reviewed international journal.

Devoted to the study and documentation of the black cinematic experience, Black Camera will be published biannually and is the only scholarly film journal of its kind in the United States.

It will feature essays and interviews that engage film in social as well as political contexts and in relation to historical and economic forces that bear on the reception, distribution, and production of film in local, regional, national, and transnational settings and environments.

The journal also comprises research and archival notes, editorials, reports, and book and film reviews and addresses a wide range of genres—-including documentary, experimental film and video, diasporic cinema, animation, musicals, comedy, and so on.

The Editor invites submissions by prospective contributors relevant to the following areas:

  • Reconsideration of key black “classic” films
  • Black (and other related postcolonial and Third World) programmatic film statements and manifestos
  • Black sexuality in film
  • Black filmmaking and cinematic formations in Europe
  • Archival film documents
  • Slavery and anticolonial struggles in the historical film
  • Lusophone and Francophone African cinemas
  • Sub-Saharan African cinema
  • Cinemas of the Maghreb
  • Black Hollywood
  • Black animation
  • Women filmmakers of the African diaspora
  • Caribbean cinemas
  • Reception studies
  • Film directors, screenwriters, actors

The Editor gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of Communication and Culture, and the College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Please direct questions and submissions to:

Black Camera
c/o Black Film Center/Archive
Wells Library, Room 044
1320 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
(812) 856-7664


Submission Guidelines

  • Feature articles, essays, and interviews can be 8,000-10,000 words.
  • Commentaries can be 1,000-2,000 words.
  • Book and film reviews can be 500-1,500 words (exceptions will be considered for review essays).
  • Notes can be up to 500 words.
  • All submissions should be double spaced, use Times New Roman font with 12-point font size, and have numbered pages.
  • Authors must provide any illustrations and captions and are responsible for obtaining all permissions required to publish an illustration. Illustrations should be submitted as EPS or TIFF files.
  • Submissions can be submitted either electronically by email attachment or by hard copy on a CD or flash drive. Work should be saved as a Microsoft Word document. Please complete and include the Black Camera Contributor form with any submission.
  • An endnote citation format is required for scholarly essays. Contributors should use the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • An abstract of 150-250 words must be included.
  • Please include brief biographical, affiliation, and contact information.
  • Regrettably, we can not respond to, guarantee publication of, or return unsolicited manuscripts.
  • We reserve the right to make editorial and stylistic changes.
  • If a submission is selected for publication, a signed Memorandum of Agreement will be sent and must be signed before publication.