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March 29, 2023
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM


Black Rodeo collage
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Virtual: Author Mia Mask Discusses "Black Rodeo: A History of the African American Western"

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

African American westerns have a rich cinematic history and visual culture. Professor and author Mia Mask examines the African American western hero within the larger context of film history by considering how Black westerns evolved and approached wide-ranging goals.

Woody Strode’s 1950s transformation from football star to actor was the harbinger of hard-edged western heroes later played by Jim Brown and Fred Williamson. Sidney Poitier’s Buck and the Preacher provided a narrative helmed by a groundbreaking African American director and offered unconventionally rich roles for women. Mask moves from these discussions to consider blaxploitation westerns and an analysis of Jeff Kanew’s hard-to-find 1972 documentary about an all-Black rodeo. The book addresses how these movies set the stage for modern-day westploitation films like Django Unchained.?

A first-of-its kind survey, Black Rodeo illuminates the figure of the Black cowboy while examining the intersection of African American film history and the western.

Buy signed (by bookplate) books by Mia from Bank Square Books. Just note in the comments that you'd like the books signed at checkout! 

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About Mia Mask:

Mia Mask is the Mary Riepma Ross endowed chair of Film at Vassar College.  She received her Ph.D. from New York University. At Vassar she teaches African American cinema, documentary history, and genre courses. She is the author of Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film, published by University of Illinois Press (2009).  Professor Mask edited the anthology Contemporary Black American Cinema, published by Routledge (2012).  In 2014, she published the jointly edited collection Poitier Revisited: Reconsidering a Black Icon in the Obama Age (Bloomsbury). She has written film reviews and covered festivals for, The Village Voice, Film Quarterly, Time Out New York, The Poughkeepsie Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her criticism was anthologized in Best American Movie Writing. Her cultural commentary has been featured on National Public Radio programs “Tell Me More,” “Marketplace” and “Morning Edition,” and in documentaries for the Smithsonian Channel, the Criterion Channel and CNN’s The Movies.

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This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library.

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