This course uses film to investigate the central role of race in American culture and history. Using films as the primary texts, the course will explore the relationship between these films and the social and political contexts from which they emerged. Looking at both mainstream and independent cinema, the course will chart the continuities and varieties of representations and negotiations of "race." The course spans the 20th century, covering (among other topics) Jim Crow in silent film, Hollywood westerns and melodramas, borderland crime dramas, documentary film, and experimental cinema. This class will concentrate on the history of African Americans in film, but we will also watch movies that consider how the overlapping histories of whiteness and ethnicity, American Indians, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, the "Third World" and "multiculturalism" have been represented in film. Themes covered include representing race and nation; the borderlands; passing and miscegenation; the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.