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Behind the S(cr)een: African Americans in the Entertainment Industries

Apr 21, 2022

All Day

UI Campus, Iowa City, IA 52242

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Behind the Screen

Join us for the 2022 Obermann Humanities Symposium, Behind the S(cr)een: African Americans in the Entertainment Industries. The three-day event will take place April 21–23, 2022.

This event was originally scheduled for Spring 2021 but has been postponed in the interest of public health.

One of the spaces where critical work around black images happens involves what can be seen—the actual images that dance across our screen from Black-ish and The Chi to Harriet and Dear White People. But what happens if we recast our gaze and look behind the screen to situate black cultural production? As a conflicted and contradictory space, the media industries produce and channel particular forms of creativity and diversity of representation. This symposium explores how the demands and incentives of the contemporary entertainment industries enable and disable the employment and autonomy of creatives of color. Bringing together leading media and cultural studies scholars along with specific professionals within the media industries such as writers, producers, casting directors and marketers, this symposium looks behind the screen to reveal the innerworkings of African American representation.

This symposium is co-directed by Venise Berry (Journalism and Mass Communication, CLAS), Tim Havens (Communication Studies and African American Studies, CLAS), and Alfred Martin (Communication Studies, CLAS). It is hosted by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, with support from the Ida Beam Visiting Professorships Program.

Free and open to the public. No registration necessary.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact in advance at