Ph.D in Cinema Studies, NYU, 2006
Alessandra Raengo’s research focuses on blackness in the visual and aesthetic fields, lately with a particular focus on the notion of “liquid blackness,” which is also the name of a research group she coordinates in the School of Film, Media, & Theatre at Georgia State University. www.liquidblackness.com
Her work with the liquid blackness research group, which comprises a variety of current students and graduates of the Moving Image Studies program at Georgia State University, is devoted to the investigation of the possibility of thinking about blackness “as” aesthetics. The group curates critical public encounters around black diaspora visual art and manages an online peer-reviewed journal also called liquid blackness. Its website also gather resources for scholarship on black diaspora cinema and has been tracing a “lineage” and a series of family resemblances in transnational modes of aesthetic liquidity and radical politics in black US and diaspora filmmaking and visual arts from the 1970s onward. “liquid blackness” is also a critical concept in its own right invested in formal readings of modes of black aesthetics in the arts of the present.
Her scholarship is intrinsically interdisciplinary and located at the intersection of Film Studies, Visual Culture Studies, Black Studies, and Art Theory, and Critical Theory. It attends to a variety of objects, from still photography to moving images, in film, video and installation art, including contemporary black and post-black art. It is moved by the conviction that blackness, as both a visual and racial fact, is the most productive and important starting point to theorize the ontology of images and, similarly, that the “color line” –even when it is scrambled and molecularized in aesthetics forms of black liquidity—offers the most sophisticated and urgent approach to the conjunction of aesthetics and politics.
Prof. Raengo has a classical formation in film studies, philosophy and critical theory with a constitutive international perspective (which includes the translation of Robert Stam, Robert Burgoyne, and Sandy Flitterman-Lewis’s New Vocabularies In Film Semiotics (Bompiani, 1999) the shared editorship, with Leonardo Quaresima and Laura Vichi, of two international conference proceedings in film studies on The Bounds of Representation (2000) and The Birth of Film Genres (1999), and, with Robert Stam, of two anthologies on adaptation theory (Literature and Film and Companion to Literature and Film, Blackwell, 2004 and 2005).
Since her doctoral work, she has been training as a critical race, art and visual culture scholar and developed an increasingly acute commitment to the understanding race in visual culture, and in particular of black liquidity, as vital to theorizations of image ontology and aesthetics. This direction began with her first single-authored book On the Sleeve of the Visual (Dartmouth, 2013) where she showed how the black body has historically both fostered and expressed a photochemical imagination, i.e., a specific way to think of images as a direct fold from the real and therefore as wearing their truth, value, and meaning “on their sleeve.” This is essentially a book of visual theory approached from the point of view of racial blackness.
Building on this, her second book, Critical Race Theory and Bamboozled (Bloomsbury, 2016) and her work for the liquid blackness group articulate a greater focus on the aesthetics and affects surrounding black liquidity as a way to approach the ontology of the image in both analog and digital media across considerations of motion, matter, and form.
She is currently working on two book-length projects: one on black materiality in contemporary art and the other on race and the liquid image.
Prof. Raengo teaches graduate seminars on Critical Visual Culture Theory, Race and Visual Culture, Race and Capital, Film Theory, and Theories of Black Filmmaking. At the undergraduate level, she teaches a variety of classes, including on Stillness and Movement in the Photographic Image, Race and Representation, and the Films of Spike Lee.
Critical Race Theory and Bamboozled. (In the series “Film theory in Practice,” Todd McGowan, ed.) New York: Bloomsbury, October 2016, 203pp.
On the Sleeve of the Visual: Race as Face Value. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 2013, 232pp.
with Robert Stam, eds.: Literature and Film. A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation. Blackwell Publishing, 2005, 359pp
with Robert Stam, eds.: A Companion to Literature and Film. Blackwell Publishing, 2004, 463pp
with Leonardo Quaresima and Laura Vichi, eds.: I limiti della rappresentazione. The Bounds of Representation. Udine: Forum, 2000, 472pp
with Leonardo Quaresima and Laura Vichi, eds.: La nascita dei generi cinematografici. The Birth of Film Genres. Udine: Forum, 1999, 456pp
Journal Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters
Book review: Kobena Mercer, Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices Since the 1980s (Duke University Press, 2016), forthcoming in caa.org (August 2017)
with Lauren M. Cramer, “Freeing Black Codes: liquid blackness Plays the Jazz Ensemble,” in “Black Code Studies,” ed. Jessica Marie Johnson and Mark Anthony Neal, special issue, The Black Scholar 47 (forthcoming, Fall 2017)
“Dreams are colder than Death and the Gathering of Black Sociality,” Black Camera, 8, no. 2 (2016)
“Black Matters,” special section of Discourse on “Is the Moving Image an Object?” ed. Brian Price and Alessandra Raengo, vol. 38, no. 2 (Fall 2016): 246-264.
“Blackness and the Image of Motility: A Suspenseful Critique,” Black Camera, 8, no. 1 (2016): 191-206.
“Life in Those Shadows! Kara Walker’s Post-Cinematic Silhouettes,” in Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film, ed. Julia Leyda and Shane Denson (REFRAME Books, April 2016). Reprint.
“Encountering the Rebellion: liquid blackness reflects on the expansive possibilities of the L.A. Rebellion films,” in L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema, ed. Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Jacqueline Stewart, University of California Press, 2015. (Winner of the 2016 Kraszna Krausz Book Award, UK and of the SCMS Best Edited Collection)
“liquid blackness: A Research Project on Blackness and Aesthetics,” in Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, exhibition catalogue ed. by Connie Butler and published by DelMonico- Prestel, 2015. Reprint.
“©AMOUFLAGE”, in On Not Looking: The Paradox of Contemporary Visual Culture, ed. Francis Guerin, Routledge, 2015.
“Out of the Literary Comfort Zone: Adaptation, Embodiment, Assimilation,” in Teaching Adaptations, ed. Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan, Palgrave, 2014: 106-119.
“In the Shadow,” Camera Obscura 83, vol. 28, no. 2 (2013).
“Reification, Reanimation, and the Money of the Real,” The World Picture Journal 7, “Distance,” Summer 2012. http://www.worldpicturejournal.com/WP_7/Raengo.html.
“Shadowboxing: Lee Daniels’s Non-Representational Cinema,” in Mia Mask, ed., Contemporary Black American Cinema, Routledge, 2012: 200-216.
“Optic Black: Blackness as Phantasmagoria,” in Akil Houston ed., Beyond Blackface. Africana Images in the US Media. Kendall Hunt Publishing, 3rd edition, 2010: 151-162.
“A Necessary Signifier: The Body as Author and Text in The Jackie Robinson Story.” Adaptation. A Journal of Literature on Screen Studies 1 (2) 2008: 79-105.
Conference Proceedings (International and Multilingual)
“Life in Those Shadows! Kara Walker’s Post-cinematic Silhouettes.” In Jane Gaines, Francesco Casetti, Valentina Re, eds. The Very Beginning/ At the Very End. Udine: Forum, 2010: 211-220.
“Other Cinemas: The Photographic Gaze of the Long Twentieth Century.” In Enrico Biasin, Roy Menarini, Federico Zecca, eds. The Ages of Cinema. Criteria and Models for the Construction of Historical Periods. Udine: Forum, March 2008: 335-343.
“Race and Indexicality: Images of the Civil Rights Struggle in Night of the Living Dead.” In Veronica Innocenti and Valentina Re, eds. Limina/le soglie del film. Film’s Thresholds. Udine: Forum, 2004: 541-556.
liquid blackness: publications, research projects and events
“Introduction,” liquid blackness 3, no. 6 (December 2016): “Black Ontology and the Love of Blackness.”
“Passing Through Film/Passing Through Jazz,” liquid blackness 2, no. 5 (September 2015): “Passing through Film: The Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble”
“Introduction,” liquid blackness 1, no. 4 (November 2014): “fluid radicalisms”
“Introduction” and “Thinking Through Space,” liquid blackness 1, no. 3 (June 2014): “2014 liquid blackness Symposium: Reflections and Movements”
“Blackness, Aesthetics, Liquidity,” liquid blackness 1, no. 2 (April 2014): “blackness, aesthetics, liquidity”
“The L.A. Rebellion Comes to Town,” liquid blackness 1, no. 1 (February 2014): “liquid blackness meets the L.A. Rebellion”
“Suspension, Revisited,” In Media Res: A Media Commons Project, October 13, 2016
“A Withdrawing Object,” In Media Res: A Media Commons Project, September 17, 2015
Black Ontology and the Love of Blackness, public conversation and release of 6th liquid blackness publication, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA Dec. 1, 2016
Holding Blackness in Suspension: The Films of Kahlil Joseph. Screening, Symposium and Art Show
Georgia State University and Gallery 72, Atlanta, GA Oct. 6-7, 2016
Arthur Jafa in Conversation: Strategies for a Black Aesthetics Kopleff Recital Hall, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA April 4, 2016
Can Blackness be Loved? Screening of Arthur Jafa’s Dreams are Colder than Death (2013) and Q&A with the filmmaker. Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta GA April 2, 2016
Symposium on the Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble screening of Passing Through (Larry Clark, 1977), Symposium, Georgia State University, and Drawing Through art show at Mammal Gallery, Atlanta GA September 18-19, 2015
Black Audio Film Collective Film and Speaker Series: Georgia State University, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center September 26-28 and October 3-4, 2014
liquid blackness Symposium: “Blackness, Aesthetics, Liquidity,” Georgia State University and Mammal Gallery, Atlanta, GA April 11-12, 2014
L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema film series Plaza Theater and Emory University, Atlanta, GA October 25-27, November 2-4, November 15-17, November 22-24, 2013