Crystal Boson, PhD

academicexpat.com

“Get Out” Syllabus

The “Get Out” Syllabus focuses intently on the conversations surrounding White violence, the consumption of Black Bodies, and the erasure of Black Women that the movie elicits. The syllabus is divided into two parts; the first  closely examines the historical and cultural violences that made the movie possible. The second section examines the absences and erasures that make sections of the film explicitly more horrifying. My “Get Out” syllabus is in no way meant to be exhaustive or complete. Rather, it is an entry to point to key conversations that must be continued after the movie falls from theatres and our current popular culture attention span.

Part One: This Shit Ain’t New.  

        This section of the syllabus examines both the intimate history of racial violences initiated and perpetuated by white women, cultural and racial cannibalism, and the sexual objectification of Black bodies. Each book in this section focuses on a specific incident in the film, and attempts to address multiple questions.

“White Women Racism?” These books explore the explicit connections between White Women, overt and covert racism, sexuality, desire and disgust.

Texts:

  • Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s -  Kathleen M. Blee
  • Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 - Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore
  • Big Black Penis: Misadventures in Race and Masculinity - Shawn Taylor

“What do we really feel?” Chris gets to exhibit the wide range of human emotion that is traditionally denied Black men in film, including vulnerability, horror, sorrow, and depression. There is a significant show of Black empathy that is not shockingly absent from any of the white characters. What is lacking, in many points, is a physical response to pain. What does it mean to focus on the emotional while negating the physical?

Texts:

- Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting. - Terrie M. Williams.

“Do White Folk Really Do That?” “Yes.”  These few texts explore and elaborate on the long and brutal history of white medical experimentation on and consumption of Black bodies.

Texts:

  • Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present - Harriet A. Washington
  • Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison - Allen M Hornblum
  • The Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture - Vincent Woodard

Part Two: But I Got Questions

        This section of the reading explores the erasures and omissions that must be examined in the film. The most glaring of which is the unquestioned dehumanization and erasure of Black women in the film. While there was graphic exposition of the violence and disregard of Black Women’s pain by the detailing of Chris’s Mother’s death, and the visual death of Georgina, the camera pans away from violence against Missy. Not to mention the ending with Rose and the implications of “mercy” vs “savagery”. Why were Black women dehumanized and erased? What is the context surrounding Black resistance and violence in this film?

“Seriously, You’re Gonna Do Black Women Like That, Again?” This book interrogates the representations of Black women in the film as crazy and controlled, absent, or apathetic.

  • The Suffering Will Not Be Televised: African American Women and Sentimental Political Storytelling - Rebecca Wanzo

“Let’s Talk About that Ending” I’m not gonna give spoilers, but that ending……

Texts:

  • The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement - Lance Hill
  • This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible - Charles E. Cobb Jr

“SMH White Folks” These texts serve as general companion pieces for the movie in its entirety and the white response to it and the 100% Rotten Tomatoes ranking.

  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide- Carol Anderson
  • I Am Not Your Negro: A Companion Edition to the Documentary Film Directed by Raoul Peck
  • In The Wake: On Blackness and Being - Christina Sharpe

I will be reading these, and making a video discussion blog. A schedule and more information will be posted on my blog, Academic Expat (academicexpat.com).