This essay traces the evolution of writer and filmmaker Kathleen Collins's multifaceted artistic oeuvre in order to explore her central, if still largely unacknowledged, place in the black film scene of 1970s New York and to track her subsequent, symbiotic movement between literary and film projects. The first part of this essay shows how Collins's early professional experiences gave her an acute sense of the aesthetic and political possibilities of film but also demonstrated for her the limitations of both mainstream Hollywood, with its stereotypical depictions of black life, and still-masculinist independent black film productions of the 1970s. The second part of the essay then turns to Collins's short stories, screenplays, and her best-known work, Losing Ground (1982), to argue that her signature contribution emerged in response to such limitations: by experimenting within and across media, she developed an alternative filmic practice capable of and invested in representing the individualized subjectivities of black women. Indeed, her ceaseless experiments with film aesthetics reveal a deep belief in the unique power of cinema as a tool to present interiority, perhaps especially the inner lives of black female subjects typically ignored by Hollywood films.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- Literature and Literary Theory