Media and the Affective Life of Slavery

2022
Author:

Allison Page

How media shapes our actions and feelings about race

Allison Page examines U.S. media from the 1960s to today and delivers vital new ideas about how our feelings about race are governed and normalized by our media landscape. Media and the Affective Life of Slavery argues that visual culture works through emotion, a powerful lever for shaping and managing racialized subjectivity.

Amid fervent conversations about antiracism and police violence, Media and the Affective Life of Slavery delivers vital new ideas about how our feelings about race are governed and normalized by our media landscape. Allison Page examines U.S. media from the 1960s to today, analyzing how media culture instructs viewers to act and feel in accordance with new racial norms created for an era supposedly defined by an end to legal racism.

From the classic television miniseries Roots to the edutainment video game Mission 2: Flight to Freedom and the popular website slaveryfootprint.org, Media and the Affective Life of Slavery provides an in-depth look at the capitalist and cultural artifacts that teach the U.S. public about slavery. Page theorizes media not only as a system of representation but also as a technology of citizenship and subjectivity, wherein race is seen as a problem to be solved. Ultimately, she argues that visual culture works through emotion, a powerful lever for shaping and managing racialized subjectivity.

Media and the Affective Life of Slavery delivers compelling, provocative material and includes a wealth of archival research into such realms as news, entertainment, television, curricula, video games, and digital apps, providing new and innovative scholarship where none currently exists.

Allison Page is assistant professor of media studies with a joint appointment in the Institute for the Humanities and the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University.

Contents

Introduction: Racial Formation and Post–Civil Rights Governance

1. “The Restless Black Peril”: Race, Television Documentary, and Emotion

2. Feeling Slavery Roots and Pedagogies of Emotion

3. Choosing Freedom: Empathy and Agency

4. “How Many Slaves Work for You?” Algorithmic Governance and Guilt

Conclusion. Refusing Prescription: Kara Walker and Black Feminist Cultural Production

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index