This course examines race films in their broad cultural context. From the mid-1910s to the early 1950s, African Americans produced and supported a "race film" industry, in which black-cast films were distributed to segregated African American audiences across the country. These films speak to a wide range of social, economic and political issues facing African American communities prior to the civil rights movement. They also share formal and stylistic qualities with other forms of black cultural production (literature, drama, journalism, music, and visual art). This course examines films by pioneering Black directors (Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams) as well as the many white-controlled race film companies, in order to trace how this industry competed -- through variation and/or imitation -- with mainstream Hollywood product. How did it participate in the construction of Black stars (e.g., Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, Hattie McDaniel)? How did it relate to Black urban migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and other contemporary movements? How did it attempt to respond to the politics of Black representation and modes of audience address in mainstream films produced during this period? We will think about how numerous institutional, technological and representational developments (e.g., the growth of Hollywood, the coming of sound, uses of blackface) shaped the operations of this independent industry. We will also ENGLage with founding and recent scholarship on race films, their makers, and their audiences (Cripps, Sampson, Bowser & Spence, Green, Gaines).