Allyson Nadia Field and Mindy Johnson have been named 2019 Academy Film Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Their respective book projects explore the impact of minstrelsy on early American film and the vital accomplishments of women in the formation of early animation. The Academy’s Educational Grants Committee will award Field and Johnson each $25,000 on the basis of their proposals.
“Field and Johnson’s research will shed new light on the history of the film industry through two distinct lenses,” said Marcus Hu, chair of the Academy’s Grants Committee. “This committee is honored to support them, and we look forward to seeing how their work impacts our historical understanding and appreciation of motion pictures for generations to come.”
Field is an associate professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her book, titled Minstrelsy-Vaudeville-Cinema: American Popular Culture and Racialized Performance in Early Film, reassesses the emergence of American film by recognizing the impact of minstrelsy on popular culture. Her work will not only explore the translation of minstrelsy to the screen, but also showcase resistance to its portrayals of African Americans, raising questions of race and representation in contemporary Hollywood.
Johnson is an award-winning author, historian and filmmaker who, through her work, aims to change the current understanding of animated film and support a more gender-balanced approach to film history. Her book, Women Who Transformed Our Animated Past (working title), will also include a curriculum and database of resources. Focusing on the lives and accomplishments of women who defined, developed, expanded and advanced animation, it will also showcase the work of women from diverse backgrounds that has never been thoroughly researched or documented.
Field and Johnson join 14 Academy Film Scholars who are currently working on projects and 19 other scholars whose works have already been published.
Academy film scholars with projects in progress include Ellen Scott, Donna Kornhaber, Charles Musser, Emily Thompson, Stuart Liebman, John Belton, Cari Beauchamp, Dan Streible, Thomas Schatz, Laurence Kardish, James Tweedie, Ross Melnick, Glenn Frankel and Keri Walsh.
Established in 1999, the Academy Film Scholars program is designed to support significant new works of film scholarship. The Academy’s cultural and educational wing – the Academy Foundation – annually awards grants to film scholars, cultural organizations and film festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. Through the Foundation, the Academy also presents a rich assortment of screenings and other public programs each year.