Film Studies

Celebrating the release of Prof Alice Craven's latest book 'Visible and Invisible Whiteness'


On Monday October 1, 2018, The American University of Paris celebrated the launch of Professor Alice Mikal Craven’s new book, Visible and Invisible Whiteness - American White Supremacy through the Cinematic Lens in the David T. McGovern Grand Salon.

The book examines the complicity between Classical Hollywood narratives or genres and representations of white supremacy in the cinema. Close readings of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation by James Agee and James Baldwin explore these authors’ perspectives on the American mythologies which ground Griffith’s film. The intersectionality of Bordwell’s theories on Classical Hollywood Narrative versus art cinema and Richard Dyer’s seminal work on whiteness form the theoretical base for the book. The book features film undervalued or banned due to their hybrid natures with respect to Hollywood and Art Cinema techniques, such as Samuel Fuller’s White Dog and Jean Renoir’s The Southerner. The book offers comparative analyses of American studio-based directors as well as European and European émigrés directors and provides insight for those concerned about re-emerging white supremacist tensions in contemporary America.

The event included a reading from Professor Craven’s work and a conversation with other faculty from the Film Department; namely Department Chair Marie Regan and Assistant Professor Valerio Coladonato. Delving into some of her childhood memories growing up during “Phase Two of Integration in the United States of America,” Professor Craven provided insight into her inspiration and creative journey, where an academic approach to the subject matter ultimately offered her an opportunity to explore and process some of the experiences encountered during a unique moment in US history.  

Additionally, Professor Craven provided insights into her academic journey to publication and the importance of “looking at the margins of what these critics are saying and the margins of the film production notes to understand what is happening… [it’s] important to look at the margins because cinema is our dark mirror… the margins show us that dark mirror.”

To top off the event, the numerous attendees raised a glass to Professor Craven’s accomplishment and carried on the conversation in classic AUP fashion: over wine and cheese.