Fade In, Crossroads is a history of the relations between southerners and motion pictures from the silent era to midcentury. Examining the ways in which the South contributed to the development of the film medium from the late nineteenth century through the golden age of Hollywood, the book sheds light on early production centers of the South such as Jacksonville, Florida and Asheville, North Carolina. It also explores the effects of the migration of millions of black and white southerners beyond the region to such destinations as Los Angeles. Fade In, Crossroads tells the story of how the rise and fall of the American film industry coincided with the rise and fall of the South's most important modern product and export: Jim Crow segregation.
Robert Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Tulsa, specializing in cultural studies of the modern United States at the intersection of literature, film and media studies, and social history. He has written on many aspects of American literature and film, from major writers such as William Faulkner and Toni Morrison to film noir, melodrama, and other genres. Among his special interests are the US South, African American Studies, urban studies, architectural history, environmental history and literature, and political, social, and cultural activism. He studied at four universities (University of Chicago, Loyola Marymount University, New York University, University of Virginia), and has taught at three (Stillman College, University of Virginia, University of Tulsa).
In eight chapters, the book details varied encounters of southern literary figures with film as viewers, screenwriters, critics, and occasionally, filmmakers themselves. Fade In, Crossroads takes a crucial look at Southern historical legacies on film: the prolific Civil War film tradition the notorious tradition of lynching films during an era of widespread lynching in the South; and the remarkable race film industry, whose independent African American filmmakers forged an important cinematic tradition in response to the racial limitations of both the South and Hollywood. In its succinct conclusion, Fade In, Crossroads maps the influence of film on future participants in the Civil Rights Movement, such as Martin Luther King, Benjamin Mays, Thurgood Marshall, Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, James Baldwin, and film-industry veterans like Lena Horne and Paul Robeson.