Berkeley Film & Media Seminar

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BFMS Lecture Series: Ara Osterweil

Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 12:00 am to 2:00 am

142 Dwinelle

Ara Osterweil

"The Last Word: Black Fugitivity in Andy Warhol's My Hustler"

This talk investigates the brief, unexplained appearance of an African-American woman named Dorothy Dean at the end of Andy Warhol's groundbreaking 1965 film, My Hustler.  All but forgotten now, Dean was  a recognizable figure in the downtown New York art world, as well as one of only a handful of African-American women to appear in Andy Warhol's films.

Although not cast as an actual character, Dean hijacks the last few moments of Warhol's most important narrative film with a haunting speech that meditates, from the margins, on the fraught relationship between precarity, desire, and social value. Combining a study of Dean's biography with archival research into her letters, as well as textual analysis of the film, this talk investigates the significance of Dean's fugitive performance of blackness in the predominantly white milieu of Warhol's Factory.


Ara Osterweil is an abstract painter, and writer, as well as an Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and World Cinema at McGill University. Her first book, Flesh Cinema: The Corporeal Turn in American Avant-Garde Film, examines the representation of sexuality in experimental films of the 1960s and 1970s. She writes for Artforum, and has published essays in journals such as Camera Obscura, Film Quarterly, Little Joe,Framework, The Brooklyn Rail, and Millennium Film Journal. She is also a proud alumna of U.C. Berkeley's Rhetoric Department. More work can be found at her website: