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Writing a College Paper: Higher Learning

by Curtis Marez

Influenced by the 1992 Rodney King uprisings in his native South Central but based on his experiences as a USC undergraduate in the late 1980s, John Singleton’s Higher Learning was actually filmed at UCLA (according to the director, his alma mater refused to allow him to make the film at USC). Set at the fictional Columbus University (with a statue of Columbus the explorer replacing the famous statue of Tommy Trojan), HL is  sort a of campus problem film that represents conflicts over race, gender, sexuality, and class. It suggests what activists and scholars call an “intersectional” analysis of power (while nonetheless falling short of such an analysis in many ways). The film’s intersecting narratives include: a racist, date-raping white fraternity brother; black radicals at odds with a group of white skinheads; a tough-love black political science professor; a white woman who questions her heterosexuality and becomes a feminist, anti-racist activist; and finally, a black student from South Central, Malik Williams, partly based on Singleton’s own experiences.  In this clip students discuss their papers with each other and a professor.  What is the vision of education suggested here, its aim and value? What ideas about education are suggested by the way students and professor are represented? 

Writing a College Paper: Higher Learning

Students discuss their papers with each other and a professor.

from Higher Learning (1996)
Creator: John Singleton
Distributor: Columbia
Posted by Curtis Marez