Melanie Stevens Visual Studies MFA Thesis 2017

Stronger Than Fiction: Confronting Narratives of Black American Culture in Mass Media

This study examines the content and arrangement of narratives regarding Black culture throughout various moments within American history. Through evaluation of these chronicles, the goal is to ascertain whether they act as reflections of the value systems and beliefs of the era in which they are created. Upon further analysis, it becomes clear that in many cases, these stories served a much more active purpose within society by creating and shaping public perceptions and, eventually, aiding public policy agendas.

This research begins with the deconstruction of the literary body of the slave narrative and the tension exhibited between newly emancipated Black men and women and the White audiences who could not see them as citizens and contemporaries. It then moves forward through centuries of mass media expansion to explore the political news media of the 1980s as well as contemporary art works of Black-identified artists. Finally, the investigation concludes with the hybridized format of the graphic novel and how narrative subverts expectations within its sequential methodology.

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MFA in Visual Studies Thesis Works