Excavating the Ghetto Action Cycle(1991-1996): A Case Study for a Cycle-Based Approach to Genre Study

by Klein, Amanda Ann

Abstract (Summary)
The following dissertation, Excavating the Ghetto Action Cycle (1991-1996): A Case Study for a Cycle-based Approach to Genre Theory, traces an historical, cultural and theoretical genealogy for the ghetto action cycle. This controversial cycle, which was initiated by the success of films like Boyz N the Hood and Menace II Society, participated in the periods broad cultural debates about race, class, crime and youth. As film cycles are strongly shaped by audience desire, financial viability, current events and studio whims, I argue that they retain the marks of their historical, socioeconomic and generic contexts more precisely than genres, which, because of their longevity and heterogeneity, can be unwieldy objects of study. My dissertation therefore advances a cycle-based approach to genre theory, illuminating the significance of the film cycle, its function within popular culture and its centrality to genre studies. Structured by the belief that viewers have a wide range of interpretive choices in any viewing situation, my dissertation employs multiple paradigms for reading the ghetto action cycleprincipally, the gangster genre, the 1930s Dead End Kids cycle, the 1950s juvenile delinquent teenpic cycle and the 1970s blaxploitation cycle. Each chapter is also a specific application of a cycle-based approach to genre studies, emphasizing in the historicity of genre formations and theorizing about the significance and function of the film cycle in defining genres, articulating social problems, shaping subcultures and exploiting contemporary prejudices. Furthermore, all of the cycles examined were conceived during key moments of transition in American historythe Progressive movement of the 1910s and 1920s, the beginnings of Americas involvement in WWII, the birth of the teenager, the 1970s Black Nationalist movement, and the drug and gang banger crises of the early 1990s. Thus, close readings, not just of the films, but of the films in the context of their cycles, offer new ways of understanding how the popular imagination interprets moments of social change, and how the film industry seeks to capitalize upon these interpretations.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Neepa Majumdar; Dr. Jane Feuer; Dr. Lucy Fischer; Dr. Paula Massood

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:09/20/2007

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