[MGSA-L] Dan Georgakas at Ohio State

Anagnostou, Georgios anagnostou.1 at osu.edu
Mon Apr 25 05:42:57 PDT 2011


 Dan Georgakas

Humor and Ethnic Image in American Film:
The Greek Americans

Thursday, April 28, 2011
at 3:30 p.m.

The Ohio State University
Faculty Club Grand Lounge
181 South Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio

A reception at the Faculty Club
Grand Lounge will follow
The Lecture
American films generally reproduce the ethnic norms and stereotypes of their time and reaffirm those norms and stereotypes by reproducing them for a mass audience. Ethnic humor has always been double-edged.  Is laughing at fractured language laughing with or at the speaker?  Is there a wide variety of personalities and classes in the comedic images? The treatment of Greek Americans is both similar to and different from other ethnic groups. This lecture will take a close look at films such as  Swing Your Lady (1938), starring the Wrestling Hercules, Mister Lucky (1943) starring a dapper Cary Grant as a Greek gambler, Kiss Me Deadly (1955), starring Nick Dennis as Mickey Spillane’s wisecracking buddy, Only The Lonely (1991), starring Anthony Quinn as Nick Acropolis, and of course, the blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), starring Nia Vardalos. The nature of the humor in these films and others will be compared with the humor in films featuring other ethnic groups. In that sense, American cinema tells us more about how American culture relates to a specific ethnic group at a given moment in time and less about the actual nature of that ethnic group.

 The Speaker

Dan Georgakas is a historian and film critic. He has published widely on labor history and American ethnicities, particularly Native Americans, Greek Americans, and Puerto Ricans in New York City. His books include Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, A Study in Urban Revolution (1974), Solidarity Forever, an Oral History of the Industrial Workers of the World (1985), The Broken Hoop and Red Shadows (1973), and, most recently, the autobiographical My Detroit: Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City (2006) among others. In addition, he is a co-editor of The Encyclopedia of the American Left (1990), and New Directions in Greek American Studies(1990).  Dan has been an editor of Cineaste film quarterly since 1969 and is currently Director of the Greek American Studies Project at the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Queens College (City University of New York). He has written extensively on film and his film writing has been anthologized in the US, Greece, Italy, France, China, Ireland, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He has spoken about film on Voice on America, the Canadian Broadcasting System, the History Channel, Greek National Television (ERT) and Hellenic Public Radio. Since the 1970s he has been involved in organizing film festivals for various organizations. Currently he is preparing a special issue on the Greeks of Hollywood  for the Journal of Modern Hellenism.

The Donor
Dr. Thomas E. Leontis (1917-1995) was born in  Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of Greek refugees from Eastern Thrace.  He earned his M.E. from  Stevens Institute of Technology and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Metallurgy from  Carnegie-Mellon University.  He was affiliated for 27 years with the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan, where he supervised research on magnesium and became Manager of Government Business for Metals.  In 1971, he joined Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus as the Manager of the Magnesium Research Center until his retirement in 1982.  He published over 30 research papers in scholarly journals and was an internationally recognized authority in magnesium technology.  The American Society for Metals, which he served as President (1971), member of the Board of Trustees (1964-72), and Fellow, cited his “major contributions in advancing the development and application of magnesium.”  Dr. Leontis also distinguished himself in the political, religious, and cultural affairs of the Greek-American community.  He was the President of communities in Saginaw, Michigan (1958-62) and Columbus, Ohio (1977-82), an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a member of the Order of St. Andrew.  He posthumously received the Annunciation Appreciation Award in recognition of outstanding volunteer work in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  He was a benefactor of the Modern Greek Program at Ohio State from its inception, and chaired its Committee for Support and Development (1983-85).
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