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Black Camera

Call for Submissions

Close-Up: JAY-Z

As a supplement to the Fall 2017 Close-Up on Beyoncé, Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up devoted to JAY-Z. Recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame by President Barack Obama, JAY-Z is one of the most influential rap artists of all time. With the release of 4:44, JAY-Z has once again shifted the terrain of hip-hop and his own image. Revealed as a philanderer in Beyoncé’s ground-breaking Lemonade, JAY-Z embraces vulnerability and responsibility in his fourteenth album. How does this new perspective elucidate a rapper once renowned for his masculinist lyrics and aggressive posture? This Close-Up aims to explore the evolving image and enterprises of JAY-Z, an artist whose persona is inextricable from his myriad business ventures and entertainment projects. We seek essays that address all stages of his lengthy career from his celebrated debut Reasonable Doubt to the later volumes of In My Lifetime which chronicle his difficult early life to his later masterpieces, The Blueprint and The Black Album. How has his music shaped contemporary hip-hop culture and the political valences of rap? In what ways can we reconcile his capitalist ethics and hustler persona with his critique of racialized generational wealth and extensive philanthropic endeavors? How have his views on gender, sexuality and feminism shifted since the birth of his daughters and his mother’s public announcement that she is a lesbian? What does his political activity and entrepreneurship mean in the age of Black Lives Matter? We especially welcome essays that address JAY-Z’s performance aesthetics and visual representation on stage live and in music videos.

We welcome submissions exploring JAY-Z’s music, videos, films, and public persona from a variety of disciplinary and analytical perspectives. Essays, interviews, and commentaries will be considered. Essays should be 5,000–7,000 words and commentaries 1,000–2,000 words.

Suggested topics include studies of JAY-Z’s songs, videos, business ventures, live performances, as well as formal and conceptual analyses of his work in films. Other lines of inquiry may consider:

  • JAY-Z’s racial identity
  • branding, marketing and self-promotion
  • black masculinity
  • Decoded and the tradition of black autobiography
  • marriage, fatherhood, and family
  • JAY-Z’s collaborations with other rappers and hip-hop musicians
  • rivalries and feuds
  • musical influences
  • politics, activism, and philanthropy
  • sports and business
  • Everything is Love: the Louvre, use of visual art, collaboration with Beyoncé

Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract, and a 50–100 word biography by September 1, 2018. Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on submission policy:

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editor Stephanie Li (stephli@indiana.edu).

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Close-Up: The New York Scene

Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up devoted to black independent filmmakers based in and around New York. In 2015 the Film Society of Lincoln Center premiered the groundbreaking series Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986, programmed by Michelle Materre and Jake Perlin. This series re-contextualized the all too rarely seen film and television works of artists including Jessie Maple, William Miles, Kathleen Collins, Bill Gunn, St. Clair Bourne, Madeline Anderson, Kent Garrett and William Greaves, among many others. Whether in documentaries, experimental shorts, or feature length narratives these artists recharted black life on screen. Falling between the twin poles of production that were the Blaxploitation cycle and what Paula Massood describes as the Black City Cinema of the 1990s, these artists were part of a New York “scene.” Whether as colleagues or friends, a network of black artists emerged. Within this network artists exchanged ideas and challenged typical modes of production and representation.

While many of these filmmakers had close relationships with New York’s prominent public television station WNET, some worked across media. Expanding the scope beyond New York City, these artists represented an East Coast analog to the West Coast work of the LA Rebellion filmmakers. Where UCLA represented a nexus point of education, the networks created on the East Coast were entangled across and against institutions. This Close-Up section endeavors to re-frame how scholars think of “black cinema” and the ways in which black filmmakers on the East Coast honed specific aesthetic and narrative strategies, cultivated often in opposition to those emerging in other artistic spheres. Figures like Gunn and Collins, who were once pejoratively characterized as belonging to the “Hudson River school of cinematography” turned to both the stage and the page as writers, sculpting worlds of middle class black life that cut across time and prescribed notions of legible blackness.

From Kathleen Collins’ recently re-released Losing Ground and Bill Gunn’s still shelved studio-feature Stop, to Woodie King’s neo-realist The Long Night, and William Miles’ magisterial I Remember Harlem, the New York Scene presents a challenging collective of films that defy typical cinematic histories. This Close-Up will feature works rarely discussed not to incorporate them into already existing histories but to pose new questions.

The guest editors welcome submissions on black independent filmmakers within this New York “scene” from a variety of disciplinary and analytical perspectives. Essays, interviews, and experimental works will be considered for publication. Essays should be 3,000—6,000 words.

Suggested topics include studies of an artist within the New York “scene,” collaboration among artists, innovative and experimental aesthetics, the role of public funding, the political and social impact of television, the filmic cartographies of New York, the role of the black press, the role of curators, scholars, and the importance of workshops and collectives.

Other topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • marketing and audience response
  • the importance of new technology and media in production and distribution
  • how music and performance exist on screen
  • black sexuality and black love
  • the archive and its many (after)lives
  • questions of black film history and historiography
  • the politics of representation
  • explorations of the interior lives of black characters
  • discussions of blackness, black embodiment and “black cinema” in relationship to art cinema—is there a black art cinema?
  • black intellectual life onscreen
  • the black avant-garde in cinema
  • modes of experimental and documentary production
  • impact and legacy: how did an early wave impact future filmmakers like Julie Dash, Ayoka Chenzira, Stanley Nelson et. al.
  • the impact of CUNY and its development of black filmmakers

Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract, and a 50–100 word biography by June 1, 2018. Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on the submission policy.

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editors Nicholas Forster (nicholas.forster@yale.edu) and Michele Prettyman Beverly (beverly_m@mercer.edu).

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Close-Up: Caribbean Cinema

Given the problems of scale, resources and distribution facing Caribbean films, the question of whether we can speak of Caribbean cinema as a coherent entity is justified. Landmark films from different territories—The Harder They Come (Jamaica, 1972), Rue Cases Negres (Martinique, 1983), L’homme sur les quais (Haiti, 1993), Ava and Gabriel (Curacao, 1990), Lucia (Cuba, 1968)—have achieved an iconic status that transcends borders and linguistic divisions. The philosopher Sylvia Wynter goes further, finding in The Harder They Come and musical forms like rap and reggae a “counter-signifying practice” that breaks with “our present hegemonic cultural Imaginary” in favour of “a still emergent global popular Imaginary whose most insistent challenge is carried by the new video-like Black popular musical forms and their counter-poetics of rhythm.” How far can this counter-signifying practice be detected in more recent Caribbean films, especially those post-2000, and how far are they enmeshed in the signifying practices of Hollywood? Are we any closer to being able to talk about a “Caribbean cinema” or are the differences in location and modes of production too great? In the latter case, conditions vary from the rare government sponsorship of Cuba to the institutional resources accessible to Francophone filmmakers to the independent financing and individual production more typical of the Anglophone Caribbean. Despite the cultural, linguistic and material diversity of the region, is it possible to trace thematic or aesthetic continuities between films from different territories? We note, for example, such preoccupations as the history and legacy of colonization and slavery, endemic violence, barriers built on inherited notions of racial and patriarchal hierarchies, repressed personal histories and subversive sexualities, exile, and diasporic relationships.

This Close-Up therefore invites a consideration of Caribbean cinema as a dialogue across borders, both aesthetically and thematically. If “Caribbean cinema” is less a given category than an aspirational process, how might we start to trace its contours? Are there any perceptible influences on recent films from earlier films? Is there a subversive element in the recycling of Hollywood genres—action, crime, romance? How is the relationship between the Caribbean and its diasporas, characterized by shifting spaces and artistic mobility, manifested in cinematic practice, audience desire and consumption patterns? How might we account for the persistence of violence as a trope in so many Caribbean films? Contributors are encouraged to take varied approaches—for example, reading films from different territories against each other, comparing contemporary production practices, interrogating individual works in the context of current social concerns, or bringing to bear indigenous theoretical paradigms (Yao Ramesar’s Caribbeing, Glissant’s politics of relation, etc.) in the analysis of film as text.

Other possible lines of enquiry might include:

  • “Pariah” figures as drivers of change in Caribbean/diasporic cinema
  • In a globalized world, is it more relevant to think of Caribbean cinema as postnationalist than local or regional?
  • Caribbean film festivals as alternative spaces of distribution, consumption and professional networking
  • The language continuum as a sign of Caribbean expressiveness—creole, standard, “foreign” or all three?
  • The challenges and advantages of subtitling—how its use has affected reception
  • Sexuality as flashpoint in Caribbean social representation
  • Hip-hop as “counter-poetics” in Caribbean cinema
  • Genre in the shaping of Caribbean cinematic narratives
  • Documentary as witness to Caribbean realities
  • Secrets, lies and cinematic revelations
  • Caribbean cinema and the Internet—blogs, social media, and online networks

Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract, and a 50–100 word biography by July 1, 2018. Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on the submission policy.

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editor Jane Bryce (jane.bryce@cavehill.uwi.edu).

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Close-Up: Nina Simone, Now

This special issue of Black Camera a takes up the figure of Nina Simone as a musician, a political activist, and as a historical and visionary figure whose life and legacy we continue to grapple with today.

Over the last decade, Nina Simone has resurfaced as a media icon, muse, and musical mother for contemporary artists and activists. Much like Simone’s own genre-defying style during her life, twenty-first century engagements with Simone range in style and format, including but not limited to Broadway musicals, hip hop samples, Oscar nominated documentaries, red carpet fashion tributes, and countless tribute concerts and song covers. In other words, Simone not only inspires, but in fact shapes American culture in ways that were unimaginable during her peak in the 1960s.

Simone began her career studying classical piano, moved into nightclub signing to make ends meet, and gradually developed a signature performance style that blended musical genres to become an expressive resource for major sites of dissent in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movements. Her music was taken up unofficially by the NAACP and by student groups like SNCC, even as she remained formally unaffiliated with any particular political organization. Now, Simone's body of work has taken on further afterlives as a resource for politically engaged artists and aesthetically minded activists as well as by generating new scholarly interest in her, thereby constituting a burgeoning field which we aptly call “Nina Simone Studies.”

Though sound and song were her principal media, Simone also signified visually. Her archive comprises not just recorded music but photographs, concert footage, fashion, and other visual media. Many of these not (or not-just) sonic records form the basis for the afterlives she lives among contemporary artists. Accordingly, this special issue is particularly interested in the visuality of Nina Simone as well: how her visage, style, sound, and her politics reverberate and are preserved and remediated.

Essays should concentrate on the ways that audio and visual aspects of Simone’s life, career, and influence open a window into broader themes in the study of American culture, including relations among race, gender, aural and visual aesthetics, queerness, segregation, labor, cultural transmission, music history and production, and black internationalism.

We seek submissions that examine:

  • History (including studies of Simone’s biography, education, and reception)
  • Music (formal analyses of her oeuvre, and relations between Simone’s music and associated performers or genres)
  • Politics (informal collaborations with SNCC, her rejection of non-violence, her temporary expatriation to Liberia)
  • Aesthetics (her genre-spanning sound, her iconic style, her signature vocals, her performance strategy)
  • Collaborations (other artists with whom she worked or from whom she drew influence, including Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Miriam Makeba, Al Schackman, Bob Dylan, or David Bowie)
  • Visuality (debates about casting and portrayal of her appearance, features, and skin tone in film and documentary by artists including Gina Prince-Bythewood, Cynthia Mort, Liz Garbus, and Jeff Lieberman)
  • Afterlives and Influences (artists who have sampled her work like rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z, poets and writers who have memorialized her like Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, or Monica Hand, or painters and photographers who have depicted her such as Bob Thompson or Carrie Mae Weems)

Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract, and a 50–100 word biography by January 15, 2019. Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on the submission policy.

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editors Jordan Alexander Stein (jstein10@fordham.edu) and Salamishah Tillet (salamishah.tillet@rutgers.edu).

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Close-Up: Contemporary Cuban Cinema

Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up focused on contemporary Cuban Cinema. The cultural currency of film in Cuban revolutionary society has provided for a uniquely crafted and skilled film culture in Cuba, rich in nuance and inventiveness. Nationalized in 1959 by the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos, commonly referred to as ICAIC, through the almost 60 years of revolution, Cuba’s film industry has long-held a privileged position within Cuban society, and also served as an informal measuring stick for the nation’s progress. Despite a lack of resources and varying degrees of restriction and censorship of artistic expression through the years of the Cuban Revolution, the Cuban Film industry has not only continued to thrive but also fostered a premium valuation of Cuban art and cultural production internally as well as externally. Major national and international film festivals centered on the latest offerings of the Cuban film industry, such as the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, celebrating its 40th iteration, further emphasizes the importance of Cuban film as a canonical juggernaut in the study and appreciation of contemporary film.

The early years of the revolution produced seminal films from directors such as Tomas Gutierrez Alea, Santiago Alvarez, Humberto Solás, and Julio García Espinosa who inserted themes of race, class, and gender into the revolutionary dialogue. Alternative voices such as Nicolas Guillen Landrian, Sergio Giral, and Sara Gomez served as warnings to those who would posit in their work serious questions regarding the incongruities that existed between the tenets of the Cuban revolution and artistic and racial dialogue and expression. Contemporary directors such as Gloria Rolando and Eric Corvalán Pelle have utilized a variety of genres, embraced new filmic techniques and resources such as international partnerships to develop and distribute their films globally and also to more freely interrogate themes in their films that might be considered controversial and antirevolutionary within contemporary Cuban society, which has furthered the evolution of Cuban Cinema in more recent years.

This Close-Up issue endeavors to explore the use of film not only as a narrative mode for the official voice of the Cuban nation but also as a narrative tool for counter histories. Essays framed around major socio-historic and socio-political developments in the revolution as well as those examining intersections of identity politics, counter narratives and techniques of film production are highly desired.

Suggested topics include:

  • Filmic responses and reactions to major sociopolitical and socio-historic developments of the Revolution
  • Intersections of identity politics
  • Incongruities between tenets of the Cuban Revolution and limits of artistic expression
  • Counter narratives
  • Examination of influence of foreign resources on development of Cuban Cinema
  • Revolutionary and antirevolutionary discourse

Additional topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Post-Castro film
  • Reimagining the past
  • The Special Period
  • Mariel Boatlift
  • Angola Campaign
  • Limits and allowances of artistic expression
  • Past, Present, and Future projections of Cuban history
  • Encounters of Gender
  • Influence of foreign hands and partners in film production
  • Antirevolutionary themes and topics
  • Identity politics

Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract, and a 50–100 word biography by May 7, 2019. Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on the submission policy.

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editor Aisha Z. Cort (aisha.cort@howard.edu).

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General Call for Submissions

In conjunction with Indiana University Press, The Media School 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 is published biannually and is the only scholarly film journal of its kind in the United States.

It features 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
  • Black independent filmmaking
  • Other moving image media (television, new media, etc.)

The Editor gratefully acknowledges the support of The Media School, and the College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Please direct questions and submissions to:

blackcam@indiana.edu
(812) 856-7664

Black Camera
Franklin Hall, Room 230S
601 East Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405

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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).
  • All submissions should be double-spaced, use 12-point Times New Roman font, and have page numbers in the upper right corner.
  • Authors must provide any illustrations and captions and are responsible for obtaining all permissions required to publish an illustration. Illustrations should be submitted as JPG, TIF, or EPS files, preferably of at least 300 pixels per inch.
  • Authors submitting images should be sure to indicate within the text where the image should be placed by inserting the designation “(fig. 1),” “(fig. 2),” etc. at the end of the sentence referencing the image. Please also provide any caption text in a separate document.
  • Submissions should be submitted either electronically by e-mail attachment as a Microsoft Word document. Please complete and include the Black Camera Contributor form with any submission:
    Black Camera Contributor form (PDF)
  • An endnote citation format is required for scholarly essays. Contributors should consult the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • An abstract of 150-250 words must be included.
  • Please include brief biographical statement, affiliation, and contact information.
  • Regrettably, we can neither respond to, nor guarantee publication of, nor 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.

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