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News Release

Lunchtime Program to examine Women in Blaxploitation films

Professor and Author Dr. Yvonne Sims to speak at Moravian on April 3

Bethlehem, Pa., March 13, 2008—Moravian College will host a lecture by Dr. Yvonne Sims that will focus on the portrayal of women in the “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s.   The lecture will be held on Thursday, April 3, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Reeves Café. The talk is open to the public and admission is free of charge. Sims will speak about her book, Women in Blaxploitation (2006, McFarland), and answer questions from the audience.

Sim’s book explores the surge of cheaply made, so-called blaxploitation movies that appeared in the early 1970s and how these films changed the presentation of African-American females both on and off the big screen. “This genre did a great deal toward redefining the perception of African-American actresses, breaking traditional Africa-American female stereotypes, and laying the groundwork for later feminine action heroines,” Sims notes.

 Sims will discuss the social, political and cultural context in which blaxploitation films emerged and focus on 4 African-American actresses—Pam Grier, Tamara Dobson, Teresa Graves and Jeanne Belle.  Sims will explain the eventual demise of the genre due to its shortcomings in plot and character development and also the mainstreaming of the action heroine overall, as well as the recent resurgence of interest in black action movies.

Sims is assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies at Penn State Harrisburg and was formerly assistant professor of English at South Carolina State University. She received a Ph.D. in American culture studies with an emphasis in film and women’s studies from Bowling Green State University.

Reeves Café is located on the lower level of Reeves Library on the Moravian College Main Campus.  The lecture is sponsored by The Center for the Study of Media in Culture (CoSMiC), LVAIC Africana Studies Consortium, Moravian’s Department of Sociology and Sociology Club, with support from Moravian College’s Committee on Arts and Lectures. For more information, call 610 861-1491.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.