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Northwestern School of Communication

Miriam J. Petty

Associate Professor
Miriam J. Petty

Miriam J. Petty earned her PhD from Emory University's Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and previously taught at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., and Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. Petty writes and teaches about race, stardom, performance, reception, adaptation, and genre and is especially interested in the history of African American representation in Hollywood film. Her first book, Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood (University of California Press) explores the complex relationships between black audiences and black performers in the classical Hollywood era.

Stealing the Show has been awarded the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Best First Book Award for 2016-2017. Petty's other honors include a 2015-2016 Alice Kaplan Institute Faculty Fellowship and a 2014-2015 Junior Faculty Fellowship with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. An academic with a longstanding commitment to public scholarship, Petty is also an avid producer of public programs: her recent projects include the 2012 symposium "Madea's Big Scholarly Roundtable: Perspectives on the Media of Tyler Perry" at Northwestern University; the 2014 retrospective "Mama and Papa Lala: 30 Years of Billops-Hatch Films" at Emory University; and the 2015-2016 film series "Seeds of Disunion: Classics of African American Stereotypy" at the Black Cinema House of Chicago. She is currently at work on a book manuscript examining media mogul Tyler Perry's productions and his African American audiences' nostalgic investments in such cultural forms as folktales, music, literature, and religious practice.


PhD, American Studies, Emory University

MA, Interdisciplinary Studies, Emory University

BA, History, Carleton College