Dr. David J. Leonard examines contemporary representations within popular culture, examining the broader social, political, and cultural meaning. His research agenda focuses on the systematic treatment of the politics of representation in post-civil rights America. It explores the complex linkages and slippages, intersections and ruptures, that dialectically tie together racialized bodies with political, social, cultural, and economic identities, structures and discourse.
Dr. Leonard’s work explores, documents, and illustrates the various manifestations of the narrative, ideological, and financial commodification of black bodies within popular media all while highlighting the dominant frames that facilitate, fuel, and in turn generated through the broader discursive field.
While disparate in topic, ranging from the prison industrial complex to the NBA, from the video games to the history of African American television, his work is linked by its commitment to examining the ways in which blackness is constructed, transformed, and challenged across time and space; within a multitude of institutions and affecting a number of communities. It is linked together by the ways in which blackness is imagined and represented within contemporary popular culture and how those representations connect to fear, violence, and institutional formation.
To date, he has published four books: Screens Fade to Black: Contemporary African American Cinema, (Praeger Publishers, 2006), Visual Economies of/in Motion: Sport and Film, edited with C. Richard King (Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2006); Commodified and Criminalized: New Racism and African Americans in Contemporary Sport, edited with C. Richard King (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011); and Latino History and Culture: An Encyclopedia, edited with Carmen Lugo-Lugo (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2009).
After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness, a monograph that examines race and the culture wars of the NBA (SUNY Press) is schedule to be published in spring 2012. Beyond Hate (with C. Richard King), which analyzes the production and consumption of media culture within white nationalist communities is under contract from University of Mississippi Press.
His work has appeared in Journal of Sport and Social, Issues Sociology of Sport, Cultural Studies: Critical Methodologies, Game and Culture, within Colorlines Magazine, and New Black Man. He is editorial board member of Journal of American Culture, Journal of Popular Culture, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Games and Culture, and the Sociology of Sport Journal
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