Matthew H Brown

Assistant Professor, African Cultural Studies

matthew.h.brown@wisc.edu

(608) 262-8983

1468 Van Hise

Education

  • PhD’14 University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MA’08 University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • BA’02 Truman State University

Bio

Matthew H. Brown is a specialist of African screen media, with a focus on “Nollywood,” Nigeria’s video film industry. He also writes about television, literature, and popular music. His teaching includes courses on African screen media, African oral traditions, African literature, and melodrama in Africa.

Research

My research is motivated by an impulse to understand modernity more fully—the idea that there could be no modern world, as we know it, without Africa and forms of African cultural production. I approach my work as a media historian, always striving to locate, revisit, and continually rethink the types of media, modes of address, and narrative forms that have contributed to, and arisen from, various historical conjunctures. My work on Nollywood, for example, is primarily concerned with the conjuncture where video film emerged from state television in Nigeria. And if state television was modeled on colonial cinema, then that means that the forms and contexts of video film cannot be fully understood without examining the forms and contexts of colonial cinema. The biggest questions I hope to address concern the ways in which Africa’s contemporary contributions to modernity are and are not like those contributions extracted, by force, during the imperial age. Ultimately, the modern world may be fundamentally unequal, and Africa may have contributed on less-than-ideal terms, but we can never hope for a better version of modernity without a better understanding of Africa’s place in it.

Publications

Courses

Advising

I have served on several Master’s and PhD committees, both in and outside of African Cultural Studies. The topics of graduate work to which I have contributed include film and television studies, representation in the news media, African language pedagogy (both in the U.S. and in Africa), political cartooning, and more. I invite students from any discipline to talk with me about contributing to their work. Given that advising is a mutually-edifying process, I am keen to learn from students working on subjects close to my own work as well as subjects tangentially related.