Clemson University

Common Read Film Series Film #3: Small Axe: Mangrove

The Arts & Humanities Literature (AHL) Committee of the English Department is very excited that the third film of our Common Read Spring 2023 Film Series is happening Monday March 27th at 6:00pm in Humanities Hall Auditorium (G66).


The Common Read film series will feature a film each month of Spring that has been curated by our common read author Desiree C. Bailey and is meant to allow those of us teaching/continuing to teach her work this term to encourage community participation in common read discussions throughout the spring. Please make your students and any other networks aware of the following dates. 


The third screening of the series is the thought-provoking and emotionally stirring film Small Axe: Mangrove dir. Steve McQueen on Monday March 27th 6:00pm in Humanities Hall Auditorium. See a brief synopsis of this historical-fiction retelling deeply rooted in the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora in London. We are especially excited to have so many College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities (CAAH) colleagues from other departments participating as post-screening discussion leaders. These discussions will be brief but we hope they will give audience members a chance to work through some of the rich concepts that the films raise. Thank you very much to our sponsors for helping us put on this event: English Department, CAAH Dean's Office, Global Black Studies, Pearce Center, Humanities Hub, Architecture Department, and World Cinema. And a special thanks to Clemson Libraries for all of the institutional support.


Below is a full schedule of the series as well as synopses of the films and a brief description of the Common Read.


If you have any questions at all about the film series or the Common Read, contact



Common Read Film Series


Black Orpheus/Orfeu Negro (1959) Monday January 30, 2023 - McKissick Theater 4:00pm Special time for World Cinema students

Post-screening Discussion Leaders: Kaifa L. Roland (Dir. Global Black Studies) and George Palacios (Languages)


Daughters of the Dust (1991) Tuesday February 21, 2023 – McKissick Theater 7:00pm

Post-screening Discussion Leaders: Maya Hislop (English) and Tareva Johnson (English)


Small Axe: Mangrove (2020) Monday March 27, 2023 – Humanities Hall Auditorium 6:00pm

Post-screening Discussion Leaders: Maziyar Faridi (English/World Cinema) and Wilton Schereka (Brown U.)


Small Axe: Lovers Rock (2020) Tuesday April 18, 2023 – Humanities Hall Auditorium 6:00pm

Post-screening Discussion Leaders: Aga Skrodzka (English/World Cinema) and Luca Barattoni (Languages)



Brief synopses of the films

Black Orpheus/Orfeu Negro is a 1959 romantic tragedy made in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus. It is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vincius de Moraes which is itself an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in the modern context of a favela in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval (Wikipedia). The film presents us with some of the troubling colorism of the time and place while also exploring themes of love, betrayal, and Black heroism.


Daughters of the Dust is a 1991 independent film written, directed and produced by Julie Dash and is the first feature film directed by a Black woman distributed theatrically in the U.S.. Set in 1902, it tells the story of three generations of Gullah (also known as Geechee) women in the Peazant family on Saint Helena Island as they prepare to migrate off the island, out of the Southern U.S. and into the North (Wikipedia). This film is foundational to the Black American cinematic canon as is evident in how referenced it is in so much contemporary visual Black media including Barry Jenkins’s 2016 film Moonlight and Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album for Lemonade


Small Axe is a 2020 British anthology film series, created and directed by Steve McQueen. The anthology consists of five films that tell distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. We will be screening two of the five films in the anthology. Small Axe: Mangrove is the first of the Small Axe series and tells the true story of The Mangrove Nine, who clashed with London police in 1970. The trial that followed was the first judicial acknowledgement of behavior motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police (IMDb). 


Small Axe: Lovers Rock is the second in the Small Axe anthology and depicts a single evening at a house party in 1980s West London during which intertwined relationships develop against a background of violence, romance, and music (IMDb). 




Brief information about the Common Read

The Common Read at Clemson is an effort initiated by the Arts & Humanities Literature (AHL) Committee of the English Department. This committee directs the general education literature courses (2000-level ENGL). In 2020 the committee, in conjunction with other English faculty, decided to initiate a Common Read for the students and faculty in the 2000-level courses as a means of acknowledging the Black uprisings of 2020. We work with the faculty who teach those courses, largely special faculty, to choose a text each year that can be incorporated into their syllabi and address concerns around the international Black uprisings of 2020 which responded to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor as well as decades of unjust treatment by the police. The text that serves as the Common Read should not only maintain on-campus conversations around anti-Black violence and Black resistance to violence, but should also be accessible for the faculty who are teaching the 2000-level classes. Each year, the Read culminates in an author visit during which they deliver a keynote. We have been fortunate to have Claudia Rankine and Jesmyn Ward as our visitors so far and look forward to continuing to bring to Clemson’s campus the most exciting and enlivened voices in the Black art space.  This year we chose the book of poetry What Noise Against the Cane by Desiree C. Bailey as the Common Read and are following up our Fall author keynote with a Spring film series curated by the author. This is a four-part film series that will feature a film chosen by our author each month from January-April. After each film there will be a 20-30 minute discussion/Q&A. Our intended audience for this event are all Clemson students, faculty, and staff, but especially those who are affiliated with the Common Read so students in 2000-level courses and the faculty teaching those courses. 

Monday, March 27 at 6:00pm to 8:30pm

Humanities Hall, G66 Strode Tower, Delta Epsilon Ct, Clemson, SC 29634

Notice of Non-Discrimination

Event Type


Target Audience

All Audiences


College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, English



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