Oscar Micheaux's Afro-Modernish Detective Novels and his Revision of the Pulp Fictions of the 1930's

Lecture by Brian Cremins
Thursday, May 27, 2004 - 4:30pm
Oscar Micheaux's pioneering films have influenced filmmakers ranging from Ken Jacobs to Spike Lee, and have received a great deal of critical attention in the last ten years. Despite the growing awareness of Micheaux the filmmaker, Micheaux the novelist is less well known and remains a mystery for most scholars of African American literature. Micheaux's seven self-published novels provide us with a vital record of his varied experiences as a Pullman car porter, South Dakota homesteader, and urban raconteur and filmmaker. Most fascinating are his two detective novels of the 1940s, The Case of Mrs. Wingate and The Story of Dorothy Stanfield, both of which examine and critique the conventions of the era's pulp fictions and B-movie serials while promising readers stories of "human interest, as intense, suspenseful and dynamic as an atomic bomb!" As products of a protean, modern multimedia artist, Oscar Micheaux's late novels document his numerous strategies of resistance in a popular culture glutted with degrading images of African Americans. Brian Cremins is an Asst. Professor of English at Louisiana State University.

Co-sponsored by Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and the Race/Film Study Group