Dr. Terri Francis (U Chicago 2004) is Associate Professor in Communication and Culture at Indiana University. Recently, she was a visiting associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania (Cinema Studies) and she taught at Yale University in the Film Studies Program and the Department of African American Studies for nine years.
Professor Francis writes about independent, experimental, and nontheatrical forms of African American cinema and issues of race-and-gender in performance.
Forthcoming from Indiana University Press, Josephine Baker’s Race Burlesque: Blackness, Power, and Visual Pleasure (2015) introduces Professor Francis’s race burlesque theory, a new way of thinking through the anxiety-ridden absurdities and the cultural crises that erupt where race-and-gender inequalities, humor, and the erotic intersect in popular entertainment. Not a rehashing of Baker’s French clichés, this study situates Baker’s tactical creativity against a carefully drawn backdrop of early African American musical revue and vaudeville stagings. Chapters feature close microanalysis of Baker’s films, as reframed by Francis’s historical account of the global celebrity’s reception in the African American press.
Professor Francis is guest editor of a special close-up on Afrosurrealism in Film/Video for Black Camera’s 2013 fall issue. Inspired by Amiri Baraka’s term “Afrosurreal Expressionism” and grounded in the histories of surrealism, the American avant-garde and African American cinemas, this issue sheds much needed light on the rarely seen experimental, absurd and whimsical dimensions of filmmaking and thought in African Diaspora cinemas.