By Tiffany Edwards, University Relations

How does the history of African American film reflect mainstream America’s perception of black character, behavior and masculinity? How do the films of black and white filmmakers differ in their portrayals of black men?

Dr. N. Frank Woods, director of the African American Studies Program at UNCG, will engage these and other questions in his talk, “African American Masculinity in American Films.” The free event will take place on Monday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Kirkland Room of the Elliott University Center. This is the fifth event in the 2004–05 series of Ashby Dialogues at UNCG.

Woods will show film clips that illustrate black masculinity in various genres such as the African American comedy film, the African American family film, and the African American action film. He will analyze examples from Hollywood-produced movies as well as examining black portrayals in films created outside Hollywood, including the work of independent filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, whose nearly 50 films, produced from 1918 to 1949, created “true-to-life” roles for African American males that Hollywood would never consider.

“African Americans have been part of American cinema since its turn-of-the-century origins,” Woods said. “But their portrayal in Hollywood has remained closely linked with mainstream perceptions of black character and behavior, resulting in many blatantly stereotyped performances.”

Since 1989, Woods has taught courses in the African American Studies Program at UNCG, where he has designed or redesigned some of the program’s core courses and has been director and program chair since 1995. A lecturer and consultant on art exhibitions including the work of African American artists Henry O. Tanner, Thomas Hovenden, and Aaron Douglas, Woods has also written numerous professional journal articles and recently published a book, “Lose Not Courage, Lose Not Faith, Go Forward”: Selected Topics from the African American Experience 1900-2000. His awards include a Dean’s Merit Award from UNCG and Educator of the Year from the National Pan-Hellenic Council. He earned his B.F.A. from UNC Chapel Hill and his M.F.A. from UNCG, both in sculpture and painting, and his Ph.D. in art history at the Union Institute Graduate School.

The 2004-05 Ashby Dialogues series, “Race and Gender in the Negotiation of Male Identity: The New Masculinity Studies,” is presented by UNCG’s College of Arts and Sciences and its programs in African American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. The Ashby Dialogues offer free, public lecture-discussions throughout the academic year led by guest speakers and speakers from the UNCG community.

The final program will be a discussion of the topic, “Critique of Masculinity Studies: Who Cares Now and What Is at Stake for the Future?,” Tuesday, March 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Faculty Center on College Avenue. Panelists will include Dr. Derek Krueger of the Department of Religious Studies, Dr. Mary Ellis Gibson of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and Woods and Michael Cauthen of the African American Studies Program.

The Ashby Dialogues are an annual event honoring Dr. Warren Ashby, a UNCG faculty member from 1949 until his death in 1985. The interdisciplinary forum design of the dialogues changes each year, reflecting Ashby’s view of the university as “freedom in the search and service of truth.”

For more information about the 2004-05 Ashby Dialogues, contact the Women’s and Gender Studies program at 334-5673.