ENGL 250 (Section 906, Schedule #36164)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Fall 2020
W 4:00-6:40 pm :: Hibbs 403 (does not meet in person unless specifically indicated)
Prof. David Golumbia
Office: 333 Hibbs Hall
Spring 2020 Office Hours: by appointment

Black Film

This course will touch on a number of points in film history and film studies by looking at films by and about Black people in the US. We'll focus on filmmakers, specific film genres, and performers, and use them to survey basic topics in film studies. We'll mostly look at recent film, but also at the longer history of Black directors and performers. Readings will come from a basic text in film studies, and also from some critical writing about film, film theory, and Black culture. The class will be taught entirely via online discussion and all assignments will be performed as part of discussion..


Text for purchase. Other course readings are available via PDFs in Blackboard or on the open web. See Week-by-Week Syllabus below for complete list of readings.


Copies of these films will be made available for class viewing only through our Blackboard site. However, I strongly recommend you view the films through an authorized service such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Kanopy, YouTube and others. You can use the JustWatch service to see which platform each film is currently available on. The films are listed here in chronological order, but that is not the order in which we'll watch them: see the Week-By-Week Syllabus for this information.

  1. Gordon Parks, dir., Shaft (1971)
  2. Melvin Van Peebles, dir., Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
  3. Charles Burnett, dir., Killer of Sheep (1978)
  4. Spike Lee., dir., Do the Right Thing (1989)
  5. Spike Lee, dir., Malcolm X (1992)
  6. Charles Burnett, dir., The Glass Shield (1994)
  7. Barry Jenkins, dir., Moonlight (2017)
  8. Jordan Peele, dir., Get Out (2017)
  9. Dee Rees, dir., Mudbound (2017)
  10. Ryan Coogler, dir., Black Panther (2018)
  11. Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard (2020)

Assignments and Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on written exercises and course participation as follows:

Official VCU Policy Statements

Students should visit the Provost's official syllabus statement and review all information provided there. The full university syllabus statement includes information on safety, registration, the VCU Honor Code, student conduct, withdrawal and more.

The Provost has also provided additional syllabus-related information regarding special considerations for education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Week-by-Week Syllabus

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Week Six

Week Seven

Week Eight

Week Nine

Week Ten

Week Eleven

Week Twelve

Week Thirteen

Week Fourteen


Last updated  August 19, 2020.