D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1914) is rightly notorious for its strident view of African American participation in Reconstruction. It is also a uniquely important and unforgetttable film in many ways. Viewing these films about it might be beyond the range of undergraduate interests but certainly more advanced students will find this helpful in understanding the mindset of the Jim Crow era as well as the emerging popular culture of America.
A year or two ago I attended a symposium on THE BIRTH OF A NATION at The New School where I was privileged to share the podium with the American historian of the Civil War in Popular Culture David Blight. Not only that, the entire procedings together with beautifully edited selections of the entire length with the original music of The Birth of a Nation are available on Youtube for all to see: His talk, My talk.
I must say, I like my talk better.
Birth and Rebirth of a Nation Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSqUDxzv3bE
Birth of a Nation Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_YN6INiZ_Y&feature=related
The Birth of a Nation 1914
I am a writer and a professor of English at the City College of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. My books include Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979), Invisibility Blues (1990), Black Popular Culture (1992), and Dark Designs and Visual Culture (2005). I write cultural criticism frequently and am currently working on a project on creativity and feminism among the women in my family, some of which is posted on the Soul Pictures blog.