The following was published in UChicago News on June 10, 2019.
Six months ago, a 29-second silent film captured the public imagination, sparking passionate responses from director Barry Jenkins, actress Viola Davis, and other Hollywood stars and black celebrities. As the earliest-known depiction of African American affection, Something Good-Negro Kiss was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry—preserving the images of two black performers joyfully kissing and holding hands. Now, the University of Chicago scholar who identified and dated the 1898 film has been honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Allyson Nadia Field has been named an Academy Film Scholar, a program founded in 2001 to promote film scholarship. An associate professor in UChicago’s Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Field will receive a $25,000 grant to support a new book, Minstrelsy-Vaudeville-Cinema: American Popular Culture and Racialized Performance in Early Film.