This book is the product of years of thinking about the role of cinema in shap-
ing African American modernity. It took many institutions, archives, and indi-
viduals to develop this project, not only to excavate this history but to under-
stand its significance and give it meaning. At a fundamental level, research
support was provided by the University of California, Los Angeles (ucla),
through its Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media; Office of Diver-
sity and Faculty Development; Council on Research; and the Hellman Fellows
Program. This book was also subsidized in part by Harvard Studies in Com-
parative Literature, and I am grateful to the faculty of Harvard University’s De-
partment of Comparative Literature for their continued support of my work.
The Dr. Penny Kanner Next Generation Fellowship at ucla’s Center for
the Study of Women provided the funding for a manuscript workshop at a
crucial time in the genesis of this project. For their detailed feedback, thanks
to Kathleen McHugh, the staff of the center, and the workshop participants:
especially, Anna Everett, Jacqueline Stewart, and Gregory Waller, as well as
John Caldwell, Sarah Haley, Darnell Hunt, Arne Lunde, Samantha Sheppard,
and Richard Yarborough. Their generous engagement with my work helped me
hone my ideas and shape them into this book. Kathleen in particular helped
me find ways to better articulate my arguments, and I am deeply grateful for
having such a generous colleague and friend.
This project has its roots in my doctoral work at Harvard. It was in the
stacks of Widener Library that I first came across a reference to the Hampton
pictures in the Booker T. Washington Papers. From there, a number of indi-
viduals and organizations at Harvard—the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute
at the Hutchins Center, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences—generously supported my research to
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