In this landmark work of critical theory, black studies, and visual culture studies, Alessandra Raengo boldly reads race as a theory of the image. By placing emphasis on the surface of the visual as the repository of its meaning, race presents the most enduring ontological approach to what images are, how they feel, and what they mean. Having established her theoretical concerns, the author’s eclectic readings of various artifacts of visual culture, fine arts, cinema, and rhetorical tropes provoke and destabilize readers’ visual comfort zone, forcing them to recognize the unstated racial aspects of viewing and the foundational role of race in informing the visual.
Hardcover is un-jacketed.
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ALESSANDRA RAENGO is an assistant professor of moving image studies in the Department of Communications at Georgia State University.Review:
“Raengo forges a critical encounter between vanguard African American visual culture and the most searching modes of critical race and visual theory. The result is an explosive work that envisions new histories of African American visuality and opens new lines for rethinking the African American avant-garde. Elegantly written, supply argued, and searingly illuminating.” (Akira Mizuta Lippit, author of Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video)
“For years scholars have attempted to dismantle the connection between the visual and the black racial subject. With this book, Raengo succeeds in giving blackness its proper ontology. She utilizes the science of the photograph and the machinery of capital to give us a body mired in something more than its surface. This is groundbreaking work and a must-read.” (Sharon P. Holland, Duke University)
“If slavery ensured the turning of persons into commodities, then ‘blackness’ carries the burden of this history into the optical field. Raengo narrates the story of visual culture and race, rigorously historicized in a series of lively, original engagements with racial phantasmagoria, with a freshness and nuance that are radically illuminating.” (Bishnupriya Ghosh, University of California, Santa Barbara)
“In its dialogue between the theoretical and the textual, Raengo presents new avenues of approaching and understanding the ways in which historical constructions of race structure how we see and engage with the world around us.” (Paula J. Massood, Brooklyn College, CUNY)
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