Broadway Avenue in downtown Los Angeles contains an extraordinary collection of twelve abandoned film palaces, all built between 1910 and 1931. In most cities worldwide such a concentration of original cinema houses would have been demolished long ago—but in a city whose identity is inseparable from the film industry, the buildings have survived mainly intact, some of their interiors dilapidated and gutted and others transformed and re-imagined as churches and nightclubs. Stephen Barber’s Abandoned Images takes us inside these remarkable structures in order to understand the birth and death of film as both a medium and a social event.
Due to the rise of digital filmmaking and straight-to-DVD and on-demand distribution, the film industry is presently undergoing a process of profound transformation in both how movies are made and how they are watched. Barber explores what this means for the cinematic experience: Are movies losing some essential element of their identity and purpose, and can the distinctive aura of film survive when the specialized venues required to display movies have been comprehensively overhauled or erased? Barber also forecasts the future of film, revealing how its distinctive and flexible nature will be vital to its survival.
Featuring many evocative images alongside insightful reflections on the role of film and its viewing in the global culture, Abandoned Images will be of interest to all those engaged in contemporary developments in film, visual media, and digital arts.
Before his death in 2016, Abbas Kiarostami wrote or directed more than thirty films in a career that mirrored Iranian cinema's rise as an international force. His 1997 feature Taste of Cherry made him the first Iranian filmmaker to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Critics' polls continue to place Close-Up (1990) and Through the Olive Trees (1994) among the masterpieces of world cinema. Yet Kiarostami's naturalistic impulses and winding complexity made him one of the most divisive--if influential--filmmakers of his time. In this expanded second edition, award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum renew their illuminating cross-cultural dialogue on Kiarostami's work. The pair chart the filmmaker's late-in-life turn toward art galleries, museums, still photography, and installations. They also bring their distinct but complementary perspectives to a new conversation on the experimental film Shirin. Finally, Rosenbaum offers an essay on watching Kiarostami at home while Saeed-Vafa conducts a deeply personal interview with the director on his career and his final feature, Like Someone in Love.
From the films of Larry Clark to the feminist comedy of Amy Schumer to the fall of Louis C. K., comedic, graphic, and violent moments of abjection have permeated twentieth- and twenty-first-century social and political discourse. The contributors to Abjection Incorporated move beyond simple critiques of abjection as a punitive form of social death, illustrating how it has become a contested mode of political and cultural capital—empowering for some but oppressive for others. Escaping abjection's usual confines of psychoanalysis and aesthetic modernism, core to theories of abjection by thinkers such as Kristeva and Bataille, the contributors examine a range of media, including literature, photography, film, television, talking dolls, comics, and manga. Whether analyzing how comedic abjection can help mobilize feminist politics or how expressions of abjection inflect class, race, and gender hierarchies, the contributors demonstrate the importance of competing uses of abjection to contemporary society and politics. They emphasize abjection's role in circumscribing the boundaries of the human and how the threats abjection poses to the self and other, far from simply negative, open up possibilities for radically new politics.
Contributors. Meredith Bak, Eugenie Brinkema, James Leo Cahill, Michelle Cho, Maggie Hennefeld, Rob King, Thomas Lamarre, Sylvère Lotringer, Rijuta Mehta, Mark Mulroney, Nicholas Sammond, Yiman Wang, Rebecca Wanzo
Edited by Gregory Butler, George Stauffer, and Mary Dalton Greer University of Illinois Press, 2007 Library of Congress ML410.B13A36 2008 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
That Johann Sebastian Bach is a pivotal figure in the history of Western music is hardly news, and the magnitude of his achievement is so immense that it can be difficult to grasp. In About Bach, fifteen scholars show that Bach's importance extends from choral to orchestral music, from sacred music to musical parodies, and also to his scribes and students, his predecessors and successors. Further, the contributors demonstrate a diversity of musicological approaches, ranging from close studies of Bach's choices of musical form and libretto to wider analyses of the historical and cultural backgrounds that impinged upon his creations and their lasting influence. This volume makes significant contributions to Bach biography, interpretation, pedagogy, and performance.
Contributors are Gregory G. Butler, Jen-Yen Chen, Alexander J. Fisher, Mary Dalton Greer, Robert Hill, Ton Koopman, Daniel R. Melamed, Michael Ochs, Mark Risinger, William H. Scheide, Hans-Joachim Schulze, Douglass Seaton, George B. Stauffer, Andrew Talle, and Kathryn Welter.
Winner of the 2016 Diane Hope Book of the Year Award from the Visual Communication Division of the National Communication Association
From the perspective of cultural conservatives, Hollywood movies are cesspools of vice, exposing impressionable viewers to pernicious sexually-permissive messages. Offering a groundbreaking study of Hollywood films produced since 2000, Abstinence Cinema comes to a very different conclusion, finding echoes of the evangelical movement’s abstinence-only rhetoric in everything from Easy A to Taken.
Casey Ryan Kelly tracks the surprising sex-negative turn that Hollywood films have taken, associating premarital sex with shame and degradation, while romanticizing traditional nuclear families, courtship rituals, and gender roles. As he demonstrates, these movies are particularly disempowering for young women, concocting plots in which the decision to refrain from sex until marriage is the young woman’s primary source of agency and arbiter of moral worth. Locating these regressive sexual politics not only in expected sites, like the Twilight films, but surprising ones, like the raunchy comedies of Judd Apatow, Kelly makes a compelling case that Hollywood films have taken a significant step backward in recent years.
Abstinence Cinema offers close readings of movies from a wide spectrum of genres, and it puts these films into conversation with rhetoric that has emerged in other arenas of American culture. Challenging assumptions that we are living in a more liberated era, the book sounds a warning bell about the powerful cultural forces that seek to demonize sexuality and curtail female sexual agency.
An invention of the Industrial Revolution, the accordion provided the less affluent with an inexpensive, loud, portable, and durable "one-man-orchestra" capable of producing melody, harmony, and bass all at once. Imported from Europe into the Americas, the accordion with its distinctive sound became a part of the aural landscape for millions of people but proved to be divisive: while the accordion formed an integral part of working-class musical expression, bourgeois commentators often derided it as vulgar and tasteless.
This rich collection considers the accordion and its myriad forms, from the concertina, button accordion, and piano accordion familiar in European and North American music to the exotic-sounding South American bandoneón and the sanfoninha. Capturing the instrument's spread and adaptation to many different cultures in North and South America, contributors illuminate how the accordion factored into power struggles over aesthetic values between elites and working-class people who often were members of immigrant and/or marginalized ethnic communities. Specific histories and cultural contexts discussed include the accordion in Brazil, Argentine tango, accordion traditions in Colombia, cross-border accordion culture between Mexico and Texas, Cajun and Creole identity, working-class culture near Lake Superior, the virtuoso Italian-American and Klezmer accordions, Native American dance music, and American avant-garde.
Contributors are María Susana Azzi, Egberto Bermúdez, Mark DeWitt, Joshua Horowitz, Sydney Hutchinson, Marion Jacobson, James P. Leary, Megwen Loveless, Richard March, Cathy Ragland, Helena Simonett, Jared Snyder, Janet L. Sturman, and Christine F. Zinni.
Springer, Claudia Rutgers University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A26A26 2015 | Dewey Decimal 791.43028
Screen performances entertain and delight us but we rarely stop to consider actors’ reliance on their craft to create memorable characters. Although film acting may appear effortless, a host of techniques, artistic conventions, and social factors shape the construction of each role.
The chapters in Acting provide a fascinating, in-depth look at the history of film acting, from its inception in 1895 when spectators thrilled at the sight of vaudeville performers, Wild West stars, and athletes captured in motion, to the present when audiences marvel at the seamless blend of human actors with CGI. Experts in the field take readers behind the silver screen to learn about the craft of film acting in six eras: the silent screen (1895–1928), classical Hollywood (1928–1946), postwar Hollywood (1947–1967), the auteur renaissance (1968–1980), the New Hollywood (1981–1999), and the modern entertainment marketplace (2000–present). The contributors pay special attention to definitive performances by notable film stars, including Lillian Gish, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Beulah Bondi, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Nicholas Cage, Denzel Washington, and Andy Serkis.
In six original essays, the contributors to this volume illuminate the dynamic role of acting in the creation and evolving practices of the American film industry.
Acting is a volume in the Behind the Silver Screen series—other titles in the series include Animation; Art Direction and Production Design; Cinematography; Costume, Makeup, and Hair; Directing; Editing and Special/Visual Effects; Producing; Screenwriting; and Sound.
The history of the American entertainment industry and the history of the Jewish people in the United States are inextricably intertwined. Jews have provided Broadway and Hollywood with some of their most enduring talent, from writers like Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner; to directors like Jerome Robbins and Woody Allen; to performers like Gertrude Berg, John Garfield, Lenny Bruce, and Barbra Streisand. Conversely, show business has provided Jews with a means of upward mobility, a model for how to "become American," and a source of cultural pride.
Acting Jewish documents this history, looking at the work of Jewish writers, directors, and actors in the American entertainment industry with particular attention to the ways in which these artists offer behavioral models for Jewish-American audiences. The book spans the period from 1947 to the present and takes a close look at some of America's favorite plays (Death of a Salesman, Fiddler on the Roof, Angels in America), films (Gentleman's Agreement, AnnieHall), and television shows (The Goldbergs, Seinfeld), identifying a double-coding by which performers enact, and spectators read, Jewishness in contemporary performance-and, by extension, enact and read other minority identities. The book thus explores and illuminates the ever-changing relationship between Jews and mainstream American culture.
"Fascinating and original . . . Bial's command of sources is impressive, and his concept of 'double-coding' is convincing . . . the book should have no trouble finding a large audience."
-Barbara Grossman, author of Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice
Henry Bial is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Film, University of Kansas. He is editor of the Performance Studies Reader and co-editor of the Brecht Sourcebook.
The forty years from 1880 to 1920 marked the golden age of the American theatre as a national institution, a time when actors moved from being players outside the boundaries of respectable society to being significant figures in the social landscape. As the only book that provides an overview of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theatre,Actors and American Culture is also the only study of the legitimate stage that overtly attempts to connect actors and their work to the wider aspects of American life.
Charity has been a pervasive and influential concept in American culture, and has also served an important ideological purpose, helping people articulate their sense of individual and national identity. But what, exactly, compels our benevolence? In a social moment when countless worthy causes and deserving groups clamor for attention, it is worth examining how our culture generates the exchange of sympathy commonly experienced as “charity.” Acts of Conspicuous Compassion investigates the historical and continuing relationship between performance culture and the cultivation of charitable sentiment, exploring the distinctive practices that have evolved to make the plea for charity legible and compelling. From the work of 19th-century melodramas to the televised drama of transformation and redemption in reality TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the book charts the sophisticated strategies that various charity movements have employed to make organized benevolence seem attractive, exciting, and seemingly uncomplicated.
Sheila C. Moeschen sheds new light on the legacy and involvement of disabled people within charity—specifically, the articulation of performance culture as a vital theoretical framework for discussing issues of embodiment and identity, a framework that dislodges previously held notions of the disabled existing as passive “objects” of pity. This work gives rise to a more complicated and nuanced discussion of the participation of the disabled community in the charity industry, of the opportunities afforded by performance culture for disabled people to act as critical agents of charity, and of the new ethical and political issues that arise from employing performance methodology in a culture with increased appetites for voyeurism, display, and complex spectacle.
Against queer theory's long-suffering romance with mourning and melancholia and a national agenda that urges homosexuals to renounce pleasure if they want to be taken seriously, Acts of Gaiety seeks to reanimate notions of "gaiety" as a political value for LGBT activism by recovering earlier mirthful modes of political performance. The book mines the archives of lesbian-feminist activism of the 1960s–70s, highlighting the outrageous gaiety—including camp, kitsch, drag, guerrilla theater, zap actions, rallies, manifestos, pageants, and parades alongside "legitimate theater”-- at the center of the social and theatrical performances of the era. Juxtaposing figures such as Valerie Solanas and Jill Johnston with more recent performers and activists including Hothead Paisan, Bitch and Animal, and the Five Lesbian Brothers, Sara Warner shows how reclaiming this largely discarded and disavowed past elucidates possibilities for being and belonging. Acts of Gaiety explores the mutually informing histories of gayness as politics and as joie de vivre, along with the centrality of liveliness to queer performance and protest.
Why do people act? Why are other people drawn to watch them? How is acting as a performing art related to role-playing outside the theater? As the first philosophical study devoted to acting, Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Selfsheds light on some of the more evasive aspects of the acting experience— such as the import of the actor's voice, the ethical unease sometimes felt while embodying particular sequences, and the meaning of inspiration. Tzachi Zamir explores acting’s relationship to everyday role-playing through a surprising range of examples of “lived acting,” including pornography, masochism, and eating disorders. By unearthing the deeper mobilizing structures that underlie dissimilar forms of staged and non-staged role-playing, Acts offers a multi-layered meditation on the percolation from acting to life.
The book engages questions of theatrical inspiration, the actor’s “energy,” the difference between acting and pretending, the special role of repetition as part of live acting, the audience and its attraction to acting, and the unique significance of the actor’s voice. It examines the embodied nature of the actor’s animation of a fiction, the breakdown of the distinction between what one acts and who one is, and the transition from what one performs into who one is, creating an interdisciplinary meditation on the relationship between life and acting.
Dramaturg Jane Barnette has put together an essential guide for theatre scholars and practitioners seeking to understand and participate in the process of adaptation for the stage. Employing the term “adapturgy”—her neologism for the art of adaptation dramaturgy—Barnette redefines the dramaturg’s role and thoroughly refutes the commonplace point of view that adapted works are somehow less creative than “original” plays.
The dual nature of dramaturgy and adaptation as both process and product is reflected in the structure and organization of the book. Part 1 explores the ways that linking adaptation to dramaturgy advances our understanding of both practices. Part 2 demonstrates three different methods—each grounded in a detailed case study—for analyzing theatrical adaptations. Part 3 offers concrete strategies for the dramaturg: dramaturgy for the adapted script; the production dramaturgy of stage adaptations; and the role of the dramaturg in the postmortem for a production. Rounding out the book are two appendixes containing interviews with adapters and theatre-makers and representative program notes from different play adaptations.
Plays adapted from literature and other media represent a rapidly growing part of the theatre. This book offers both practical and theoretical tools for understanding and creating these new works.
Adjusting the Lens offers a detailed analysis of contemporary, independent, indigenous-language audiovisual production in Mexico and in Mexican migrant communities in the United States. The contributors relate the styles and forms of collaborative and community media production to socially critical, transformative, resistant, and constitutive processes off-screen, thereby exploring the political within the context of the media. The chapters show how diasporic media makers map novel interpretations of image and sound into existing audiovisual discourses to communicate social and cultural changes within their communities that counter stereotypical representations in commercial television and cinema, and contribute to a newfound communal identity. The new media expose the conflict of social movements and/or indigenous and rural communities with the state, challenge Eurocentrism and globalization, and reveal the power of audiovisual production to affect political change.
Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful players in contemporary American network television. Beginning with her break-out hit series Grey’s Anatomy, she has successfully debuted Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, The Catch, For The People, and Station 19. Rhimes’s work is attentive to identity politics, “post-” identity politics, power, and representation, addressing innumerable societal issues. Rhimes intentionally addresses these issues with diverse characters and story lines that center, for example, on interracial friendships and relationships, LGBTIQ relationships and parenting, the impact of disability on familial and work dynamics, and complex representations of womanhood. This volume serves as a means to theorize Rhimes’s contributions and influence by inspiring provocative conversations about television as a deeply politicized institution and exploring how Rhimes fits into the implications of twenty-first century television.
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Edited, with an introduction by Rudy Behlmer; Tino T. Balio, Series Editor University of Wisconsin Press, 1979 Library of Congress PN1997.A3115R3 | Dewey Decimal 791.437
For sheer screen entertainment, few motion pictures have ever matched the 1938 Warner Brothers production of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Even today, after more than four decades. Errol Flynn's dashing performance places this picture high in any list of all-time favorites.
It is one of the most studied of motion pictures, not only because of its popularity but also because of the extremely high level of talent brought to bear in its creation and the sharply honed production and editing techniques that allow an incredible amount of action and movement in the 102 minutes of the film.
Aesthetic Citizenship is an ethnographic study of the role of theatrical performance in questions regarding immigration, citizenship, and the formation of national identity. Focusing on Paris in the twenty-first century, Emine Fisek analyzes the use of theater by immigrant-rights organizations there and examines the relationship between aesthetic practices and the political personhoods they negotiate.
From neighborhood associations and humanitarian alliances to arts organizations both large and small, Fisek traces how theater has emerged as a practice with the perceived capacity to address questions regarding immigrant rights, integration, and experience. In Aesthetic Citizenship, she explores how the stage, one of France’s most evocative cultural spaces, has come to play a role in contemporary questions about immigration, citizenship and national identity. Yet Fisek’s insightful research also illuminates Paris’s broader historical, political, and cultural through-lines that continue to shape the relationship between theater and migration in France.
By focusing on how French public discourses on immigration are not only rendered meaningful but also inhabited and modified in the context of activist and arts practice, Aesthetic Citizenship seeks to answer the fundamental question: is theater a representational act or can it also be a transformative one?
The contemporary moment has been described in terms of both a “narrative” and a “performative turn,” but the overlap between these two has largely escaped attention. This curious gap is explained by the ways in which scholars across the humanities have defined narrative and performance as opposite forces, emphasizing their respective affiliations with time vs. space and identity constitution vs. its undoing. Although the opposition has been acknowledged as false by many in this simple form, its shifting instantiations continue to shape the ways we make sense of the arts as well as society. Instead, An Aesthetics of Narrative Performance: Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany by Claudia Breger maps the complexities of imaginative worldmaking in contemporary culture through an aesthetics of narrative performance: an ensemble of techniques exploring the interplay of rupture and recontextualization in the process of configuration. Interlacing diverging definitions of both narrative and performance, the study outlines two clusters of such techniques—scenic narration and narrative “presencing” in performance vs. forms of narrative theatricalization—and analyzes the cultural work they do in individual works in three different media: literature, film, and theater. These readings focus on the rich configurations of contemporary worldmaking “at location Germany.” In the discussed representations of German unification, contemporary cultures of migration, and the transnational War on Terror, the aesthetics of narrative performance finds its identity as a multifaceted imaginative response to the post/modern crisis of narrative authority.
In this revealing study, Daisuke Miyao explores "the aesthetics of shadow" in Japanese cinema in the first half of the twentieth century. This term, coined by the production designer Yoshino Nobutaka, refers to the perception that shadows add depth and mystery. Miyao analyzes how this notion became naturalized as the representation of beauty in Japanese films, situating Japanese cinema within transnational film history. He examines the significant roles lighting played in distinguishing the styles of Japanese film from American and European film and the ways that lighting facilitated the formulation of a coherent new Japanese cultural tradition. Miyao discusses the influences of Hollywood and German cinema alongside Japanese Kabuki theater lighting traditions and the emergence of neon commercial lighting during this period. He argues that lighting technology in cinema had been structured by the conflicts of modernity in Japan, including capitalist transitions in the film industry, the articulation of Japanese cultural and national identity, and increased subjectivity for individuals. By focusing on the understudied element of film lighting and treating cinematographers and lighting designers as essential collaborators in moviemaking, Miyao offers a rereading of Japanese film history.
When theater and related forms of live performance explore the borderlands labeled animal and autism, they both reflect and affect their audiences’ understanding of what it means to be human. Affect, Animals, and Autists maps connections across performances that question the borders of the human whose neurodiverse experiences have been shaped by the diagnostic label of autism, and animal-human performance relationships that dispute and blur anthropocentric edges.
By analyzing specific structures of affect with the vocabulary of emotions, Marla Carlson builds upon the conception of affect articulated by psychologist Silvan Tomkins. The book treats a diverse selection of live performance and archival video and analyzes the ways in which they affect their audiences. The range of performances includes commercially successful productions such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and The Lion King as well as to the more avant-garde and experimental theater created by Robert Wilson and Christopher Knowles, Back to Back Theatre, Elevator Repair Service, Pig Iron Theatre, and performance artist Deke Weaver.
Affirmative Reaction explores the cultural politics of heteronormative white masculine privilege in the United States. Through close readings of texts ranging from the popular television drama 24 to the Marvel Comics miniseries The Call of Duty, and from the reality show American Chopper to the movie Million Dollar Baby, Hamilton Carroll argues that the true privilege of white masculinity—and its defining strategy—is not to be unmarked, universal, or invisible, but to be mobile and mutable. He describes how, in response to the perceived erosions of privilege produced by post–civil rights era identity politics, white masculinity has come to rely on the very discourses of difference that unsettled its claims on the universal; it has redefined itself as a marginalized identity.
Throughout Affirmative Reaction, Carroll examines the kinds of difference white masculinity claims for itself as it attempts to hold onto or maintain majority privilege. Whether these are traditional sites of minority difference—such as Irishness, white trash, or domestic melodrama—or reworked sites of masculinist investment—including laboring bodies, public-sphere politics, and vigilantism—the outcome is the same: the foregrounding of white masculinity over and against women, people of color, and the non-heteronormative. By revealing the strategies through which white masculinity is produced as a formal difference, Carroll sheds new light on the ways that privilege is accrued and maintained.
Afghanistan in the Cinema
Mark Graham University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A35G73 2010 | Dewey Decimal 791.43658581
In this timely critical introduction to the representation of Afghanistan in film, Mark Graham examines the often surprising combination of propaganda and poetry in films made in Hollywood and the East. Through the lenses of postcolonial theory and historical reassessment, Graham analyzes what these films say about Afghanistan, Islam, and the West and argues that they are integral tools for forming discourse on Afghanistan, a means for understanding and avoiding past mistakes, and symbols of the country's shaky but promising future. Thoughtfully addressing many of the misperceptions about Afghanistan perpetuated in the West, Afghanistan in the Cinema incorporates incisive analysis of the market factors, funding sources, and political agendas that have shaped the films.
The book considers a range of films, beginning with the 1970s epics The Man Who Would Become King and The Horsemen and following the shifts in representation of the Muslim world during the Russian War in films such as The Beast and Rambo III. Graham then moves on to Taliban-era films such as Kandahar, Osama, and Ellipsis, the first Afghan film directed by a woman. Lastly, the book discusses imperialist nostalgia in films such as Charlie Wilson's War and destabilizing visions represented in contemporary works such as The Kite Runner.
Signaling such recent activist and aesthetic concepts in the work of Kara Walker, Childish Gambino, BLM, Janelle Monáe, and Kendrick Lamar, and marking the exit of the Obama Administration and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this anthology explores the role of African American arts in shaping the future, and further informing new directions we might take in honoring and protecting the success of African Americans in the U.S. The essays in African American Arts: Activism, Aesthetics, and Futurity engage readers in critical conversations by activists, scholars, and artists reflecting on national and transnational legacies of African American activism as an element of artistic practice, particularly as they concern artistic expression and race relations, and the intersections of creative processes with economic, sociological, and psychological inequalities. Scholars from the fields of communication, theater, queer studies, media studies, performance studies, dance, visual arts, and fashion design, to name a few, collectively ask: What are the connections between African American arts, the work of social justice, and creative processes? If we conceive the arts as critical to the legacy of Black activism in the United States, how can we use that construct to inform our understanding of the complicated intersections of African American activism and aesthetics? How might we as scholars and creative thinkers further employ the arts to envision and shape a verdant society?
Contributors: Carrie Mae Weems, Carmen Gillespie, Rikki Byrd, Amber Lauren Johnson, Doria E. Charlson, Florencia V. Cornet, Daniel McNeil, Lucy Caplan, Genevieve Hyacinthe, Sammantha McCalla, Nettrice R. Gaskins, Abby Dobson, J. Michael Kinsey, Shondrika Moss-Bouldin, Julie B. Johnson, Sharrell D. Luckett, Jasmine Eileen Coles, Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Rickerby Hinds.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
African Diasporic Cinema: Aesthetics of Reconstruction analyzes the aesthetic strategies adopted by contemporary African diasporic filmmakers to express the reconstruction of identity. Having left the continent, these filmmakers see Africa as a site of representation and cultural circulation. The diasporic experience displaces the center and forges new syncretic identities. Through migratory movement, people become foreigners, Others—and in this instance, black. The African diasporic condition in the Western world is characterized by the intersection of various factors: being African and bearing the historical memory of the continent; belonging to a black minority in majority-white societies; and finally, having historically been the object of negative, stereotyped representation. As a result, quests for the self and self-reconstruction are frequent themes in the films of the African diaspora, and yet the filmmakers refuse to remain trapped in the confines of an assigned, rigid identity. Reflecting these complex circumstances, this book analyzes the contemporary diaspora through the prism of cultural hybridization and the processes of recomposing fragmented identities, out of which new identities emerge.
"We have in this book a Rosetta stone for mediating, or translating, African musical behavior and aesthetics."—Andrew Tracey, African Music
"John Miller Chernoff, who spent 10 years studying African drumming, has a flair for descriptive writing, and his first-person narratives should be easily understood by any reader, while ringing unmistakably true for the reader who has also been to West Africa."—Roderick Knight, Washington Post Book World
"Ethnomusicologists must be proud that their discipline has produced a book that will, beyond doubt, rank as a classic of African studies."—Peter Fryer, Research in Literatures
"A marvelous book. . . . Not many scholars will ever be able to achieve the kind of synthesis of 'doing' and 'writing about' their subject matter that Chernoff has achieved, but he has given us an excellent illustration of what is possible."—Chet Creider, Culture
"Chernoff develops a brilliant and penetrating musicological essay that is, at the same time, an intensely personal and even touching account of musical and cultural discovery that anyone with an interest in Africa can and should read. . . . No other writing comes close to approaching Chernoff's ability to convey a feeling of how African music 'works'"—James Koetting, Africana Journal
"Four stars. One of the few books I know of that talks of the political, social, and spiritual meanings of music. I was moved. It was so nice I read it twice."—David Byrne of "Talking Heads"
The companion cassette tape has 44 examples of the music discussed in the book. It consists of field recordings illustrating cross-rhythms, multiple meters, call and response forms, etc.
2015 African Literature Association First Book Award
2013 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
African Video Movies and Global Desires is the first full-length scholarly study of Ghana’s commercial video industry, an industry that has produced thousands of movies over the last twenty years and has grown into an influential source of cultural production. Produced and consumed under circumstances of dire shortage and scarcity, African video movies narrate the desires and anxieties created by Africa’s incorporation into the global cultural economy.
Drawing on archival and ethnographic research conducted in Ghana over a ten-year period, as well as close readings of a number of individual movies, this book brings the insights of historical context as well as literary and film analysis to bear on a range of movies and the industry as a whole. Garritano makes a significant contribution to the examination of gender norms and the ideologies these movies produce.
African Video Movies and Global Desires is a historically and theoretically informed cultural history of an African visual genre that will only continue to grow in size and influence.
After Authority explores the tendency in art cinema to respond to political transition by turning to ambiguity, a system that ideally stems the reemergence of authoritarian logics in art and elsewhere. By comparing films from Italy, Hungary, South Korea, and the United States, this book contends that the aesthetic tradition of ambiguity in art cinema can be traced to post-authoritarian conditions and that it is in the context of a transition away from authoritarianism where art cinema aesthetics become legible. Art cinema, then, can be seen as a mode of cinematic practice that is at its core political, as its constitutive ambiguity finds its roots in the rejection of centralized and hierarchical configurations of authority. Ultimately, After Authority proposes a history of art cinema predicated on the potentials, possibilities, and politics of ambiguity.
How did French musicians and critics interpret jazz—that quintessentially American music—in the mid-twentieth century? How far did players reshape what they learned from records and visitors into more local jazz forms, and how did the music figure in those angry debates that so often suffused French cultural and political life? After Django begins with the famous interwar triumphs of Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt, but, for the first time, the focus here falls on the French jazz practices of the postwar era. The work of important but neglected French musicians such as André Hodeir and Barney Wilen is examined in depth, as are native responses to Americans such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. The book provides an original intertwining of musical and historical narrative, supported by extensive archival work; in clear and compelling prose, Perchard describes the problematic efforts towards aesthetic assimilation and transformation made by those concerned with jazz in fact and in idea, listening to the music as it sounded in discourses around local identity, art, 1968 radicalism, social democracy, and post colonial politics.
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze was one of the most innovative and revolutionary thinkers of the twentieth century. Author of more than twenty books on literature, music, and the visual arts, Deleuze published the first volume of his two-volume study of film, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, in 1983 and the second volume, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, in 1985. Since their publication, these books have had a profound impact on the study of film and philosophy. Film, media, and cultural studies scholars still grapple today with how they can most productively incorporate Deleuze's thought.
The first new collection of critical studies on Deleuze's cinema writings in nearly a decade, Afterimages of Gilles Deleuze's Film Philosophy provides original essays that evaluate the continuing significance of Deleuze's film theories, accounting systematically for the ways in which they have influenced the investigation of contemporary visual culture and offering new directions for research.
Contributors: Raymond Bellour, Centre Nationale de Recherches Scientifiques; Ronald Bogue, U of Georgia; Giuliana Bruno, Harvard U; Ian Buchanan, Cardiff U; James K. Chandler, U of Chicago; Tom Conley, Harvard U; Amy Herzog, CUNY; András Bálint Kovács, Eötvös Loránd U; Patricia MacCormack, Anglia Ruskin U; Timothy Murray, Cornell U; Dorothea Olkowski, U of Colorado; John Rajchman, Columbia U; Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuilleumier, U Paris VIII; Garrett Stewart, U of Iowa; Damian Sutton, Glasgow School of Art; Melinda Szaloky, UC Santa Barbara.
Marking a return for Laura Mulvey to questions of film theory and feminism, as well as a reconsideration of new and old film technologies, this urgent and compelling collection of essays is essential reading for anyone interested in the power and pleasures of moving images.
Its title, Afterimages, alludes to the dislocation of time that runs through many of the films and works it discusses as well as to the way we view them. Beginning with a section on the theme of woman as spectacle, a shift in focus leads to films from across the globe, directed by women and about women, all adopting radical cinematic strategies. Mulvey goes on to consider moving image works made for art galleries, arguing that the aesthetics of cinema have persisted into this environment.
Structured in three main parts, Afterimages also features an appendix of ten frequently asked questions on her classic feminist essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” in which Mulvey addresses questions of spectatorship, autonomy, and identity that are crucial to our era today.
The beginning of this century has brought with it a host of assumptions about the newness of our technologies, globalized economies, and transnational media practices. Our own time is a period marked by experiences of fragmentation, sensation, and shock. The essays here are joined by a common concern to chart another side to modernity—precisely after the shock of the new—when the new ceases to be shocking, and when the extraordinary and the sensational become linked to the boring and the everyday. Patrice Petro explores how the mechanisms of modernism, German cinema, and feminist film theory have evolved, and she discusses the directions in which they are headed.
Petro’s essays—some published here for the first time—raise such questions as: What roles do television and other media play in film studies? What is the place of feminist film theory in our conceptions of film history? How is German film theory situated within international film theory?
Rather than continue to sensationalize sensation, Aftershocks of the New aims to lower the volume of debates over the place of cinema within the culture of modernity. And it accomplishes this by locating them within a more complex matrix of contending sensibilities, voices, and impulses.
Recognized in America chiefly for his films, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) in fact reinvented interdisciplinarity in postwar Europe. Pasolini self-confessedly approached the cinematic image through painting, and the numerous allusions to early modern frescoes and altarpieces in his films have been extensively documented. Far less understood, however, is Pasolini’s fraught relationship to the aesthetic experiments of his own age. In Against the Avant-Garde, Ara H. Merjian demonstrates how Pasolini’s campaign against neocapitalist culture fueled his hostility to the avant-garde. An atheist indebted to Catholic ritual; a revolutionary communist inimical to the creed of 1968; a homosexual hostile to the project of gay liberation: Pasolini refused the politics of identity in favor of a scandalously paradoxical practice, one vital to any understanding of his legacy. Against the Avant-Garde examines these paradoxes through case studies from the 1960s and 1970s, concluding with a reflection on Pasolini’s far-reaching influence on post-1970s art. Merjian not only reconsiders the multifaceted work of Italy’s most prominent postwar intellectual, but also the fraught politics of a European neo-avant-garde grappling with a new capitalist hegemony.
Kelley Conway University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN1998.3.V368C66 2015 | Dewey Decimal 791.43
Both a precursor to and a critical member of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda weaves documentary and fiction into tapestries that portray distinctive places and complex human beings. Critics and aficionados have celebrated Varda's independence and originality since the New Wave touchstone Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) brought her a level of international acclaim she has yet to relinquish. Film historian Kelley Conway traces Varda's works from her 1954 debut La Pointe Courte through a varied career that includes nonfiction and fiction shorts and features, installation art, and the triumphant 2008 documentary The Beaches of Agnès . Drawing on Varda's archives and conversations with the filmmaker, Conway focuses on the concrete details of how Varda makes films: a project's emergence, its development and the shifting forms of its screenplay, the search for financing, and the execution from casting through editing and exhibition. In the process, she departs from film history's traditional view of the French New Wave and reveals one artist's nontraditional trajectory through independent filmmaking. The result is an intimate consideration that reveals the artistic consistencies and bold changes in the career of one of the world's most exuberant and intriguing directors.
Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM’s launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother’s Best Flour.
Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station’s profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station’s history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture.
Edited, with an introduction by Lawrence Suid; Tino T. Balio, Series Editor University of Wisconsin Press, 1983 Library of Congress PN1997.A3145 1983 | Dewey Decimal 791.4372
Released in 1943, Air Force was immediately hailed as the definitive "patriotic heart-throb in celluloid" that America, engulfed in war and passionately bent on victory, was primed to embrace. Lawrence Suid charts the evolution of this cinematic success in his introduction to the screenplay, tracing the tangled network of artistic, military, and nationalist interests that molded this film and made it, even after the martial fervor had settled, a standard against which all future films about war would be measured.
Throughout the filming, there was tension between the aims of the War Department and those of Howard Hawks. Hawks would ultimately produce more than stilted propaganda: it is the skillfully modulated tension, the ambience of men in war, and the total immersion in action and adventure that make this a Hollywood classic still savored and studied today.
Joe McElhaney University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress PN1998.3.M39752M34 2009 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092
Albert Maysles has created some of the most influential documentaries of the postwar period. Such films as Salesman,Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens continue to generate intense debate about the ethics and aesthetics of the documentary form. In this in-depth study, Joe McElhaney offers a novel understanding of the historical relevance of Maysles. By closely focusing on Maysles's expressive use of his camera, particularly in relation to the filming of the human figure, this book situates Maysles's films within not only documentary film history but film history in general, arguing for their broad-ranging importance to both narrative film and documentary cinema. Complete with an engaging interview with Maysles and a detailed comparison of the variant releases of his documentary on the Beatles (What's Happening: The Beatles in the U.S.A. and The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit), this work is a pivotal study of a significant filmmaker.
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Celestino Deleyto and Maria del Mar Azcona University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress PN1998.3.G6566D46 2010 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092
This in-depth study of Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu explores his role in moving Mexican filmmaking from a traditional nationalist agenda towards a more global focus. Working in the United States and in Mexico, Iñárritu crosses national borders while his movies break the barriers of distribution, production, narration, and style. His features also experiment with transnational identity as characters emigrate and settings change.
In studying the international scope of Iñárritu's influential films Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel, Celestino Deleyto and María del Mar Azcona trace common themes such as human suffering and redemption, chance, and accidental encounters. The authors also analyze the director's powerful visual style and his consistent use of multiple characters and a fragmented narrative structure. The book concludes with a new interview with Iñárritu that touches on the themes and subject matter of his chief works.
The Alexander Medvedkin Reader
Alexander Medvedkin University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress PN1998.3.M433A44 2016 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092
Filmmaker Alexander Medvedkin (1900–89), a contemporary of Sergei Eisenstein and Alexander Dovzhenko, is celebrated today for his unique form of “total” documentary cinema, which aimed to bridge the distance between film and life, as well as for his use of satire during a period when the Soviet authorities preferred that laughter be confined to narrowly prescribed channels. This collection of selected writings by Medvedkin is the first of its kind and reveals how his work is a crucial link in the history of documentary film.
Although he was a dedicated Communist, Medvedkin’s satirical approach and social critiques ultimately led to his suppression by the Soviet regime. State institutions held back or marginalized his work, and for many years, his films were assumed to have been lost or destroyed. These texts, many assembled for this volume by Medvedkin himself, document for the first time his considerable achievements, experiments in film and theater, and attempts to develop satire as a major Soviet film genre. Through scripts, letters, autobiographical writings, and more, we see a Medvedkin supported and admired by figures like Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, and Maxim Gorky.
“Alien” has a double meaning in the United States, suggesting both “foreigner” and “extraterrestrial creature.” In Alienhood, Katarzyna Marciniak explores this semantic duality. Interrogating the dominant images of aliens in American popular culture—and in legal, historical, linguistic, and literary discourses—Marciniak examines “alienhood” and the impact it has on the daily experiences of migrants, legal or illegal.
Using examples from exilic literature and cinema, including the works of Julia Alvarez, Eva Hoffman, Gregory Nava, and Roman Polanski, Alienhood theorizes multicultural experiences of liminal characters that belong in the interstices between nations. Investigating gendered, racialized, and ideological formations of “aliens,” Marciniak’s readings put into dialogue narratives from both the second world and the third world in relation to “first worldness.” This dialogue problematizes the meanings of “transnational” and brings the so-called second world into these debates. In doing so, Marciniak reorients the study of immigrant or exile subjects beyond the celebrated notion of transnationalism.
With its unique focus on “aliens” in relation to discourses of immigration, exile, and displacement, Alienhood shows how transnationality is, for many dislocated people, an unattainable privilege.
Katarzyna Marciniak is associate professor of English at Ohio University.
Carl Plantinga Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN1995.9.R3P53 | Dewey Decimal 791.43612
From their very inception, movies have served two seemingly contradictory purposes. On one hand, they transport us to fantastical worlds and display mind-boggling special effects. On the other, they can document actual events and immerse us in scenarios that feel so realistic, we might forget we are watching a work of fiction.
Alternative Realities explores how these distinctions between cinematic fantasy and filmic realism are more porous than we might think. Through a close analysis of CGI-heavy blockbusters like Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy, it considers how even popular fantasies are grounded in emotional and social realities. Conversely, it examines how mockumentaries like This is Spinal Tap satirically call attention to the highly stylized techniques documentarians use to depict reality.
Alternative Realities takes us on a journey through many different genres of film, from the dream-like and subjective realities depicted in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Memento, to the astonishing twists of movies like Shutter Island and The Matrix, which leave viewers in a state of epistemic uncertainty. Ultimately, it shows us how the power of cinema comes from the unique way it fuses together the objective and the subjective, the fantastical and the everyday.
The 1977 blockbuster Amar Akbar Anthony about the heroics of three Bombay brothers separated in childhood became a classic of Hindi cinema and a touchstone of Indian popular culture. Beyond its comedy and camp is a potent vision of social harmony, but one that invites critique, as the authors show.
Although we tend to think of television primarily as a household fixture, TV monitors outside the home are widespread: in bars, laundromats, and stores; conveying flight arrival and departure times in airports; uniting crowds at sports events and allaying boredom in waiting rooms; and helping to pass the time in workplaces of all kinds. In Ambient Television Anna McCarthy explores the significance of this pervasive phenomenon, tracing the forms of conflict, commerce, and community that television generates outside the home. Discussing the roles television has played in different institutions from 1945 to the present day, McCarthy draws on a wide array of sources. These include retail merchandising literature, TV industry trade journals, and journalistic discussions of public viewing, as well as the work of cultural geographers, architectural theorists, media scholars, and anthropologists. She also uses photography as a research tool, documenting the uses and meanings of television sets in the built environment, and focuses on such locations as the tavern and the department store to show how television is used to support very different ideas about gender, class, and consumption. Turning to contemporary examples, McCarthy discusses practices such as Turner Private Networks’ efforts to transform waiting room populations into advertising audiences and the use of point-of-sale video that influences brand visibility and consumer behavior. Finally, she inquires into the activist potential of out-of-home television through a discussion of the video practices of two contemporary artists in everyday public settings. Scholars and students of cultural, visual, urban, American, film, and television studies will be interested in this thought-provoking, interdisciplinary book.
The image of the shadow in mid-twentieth-century America appeared across a variety of genres and media including poetry, pulp fiction, photography, and film. Drawing on an extensive framework that ranges from Cold War cultural histories to theorizations of psychoanalysis and the Gothic, Erik Mortenson argues that shadow imagery in 1950s and 1960s American culture not only reflected the anxiety and ambiguity of the times but also offered an imaginative space for artists to challenge the binary rhetoric associated with the Cold War.
After contextualizing the postwar use of shadow imagery in the wake of the atomic bomb, Ambiguous Borderlands looks at shadows in print works, detailing the reemergence of the pulp fiction crime fighter the Shadow in the late-1950s writings of Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. Using Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the unconscious, Mortenson then discusses Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s shared dream of a “shrouded stranger” and how it shaped their Beat aesthetic. Turning to the visual, Mortenson examines the dehumanizing effect of shadow imagery in the Cold War photography of Robert Frank, William Klein, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Mortenson concludes with an investigation of the use of chiaroscuro in 1950s film noir and the popular television series The Twilight Zone, further detailing how the complexities of Cold War society were mirrored across these media in the ubiquitous imagery of light and dark.
From comics to movies, Beats to bombs, Ambiguous Borderlands provides a novel understanding of the Cold War cultural context through its analysis of the image of the shadow in midcentury media. Its interdisciplinary approach, ambitious subject matter, and diverse theoretical framing make it essential reading for anyone interested in American literary and popular culture during the fifties and sixties.
Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage was the first professional regional theatre in the nation’s capital to welcome a racially integrated audience; the first to perform behind the Iron Curtain; and the first to win the Tony Award for best regional theatre. This behind-the-scenes look at one of the leading theatres in the United States shows how key financial and artistic decisions were made, using a range of archival materials such as letters and photographs as well as interviews with artists and administrators. Close-ups of major productions from The Great White Hope to Oklahoma! illustrate how Arena Stage navigated cultural trends.
More than a chronicle, America in the Round is a critical history that reveals how far the theatre could go with its budget and racially liberal politics, and how Arena both disputed and duplicated systems of power. With an innovative “in the round” approach, the narrative simulates sitting in different parts of the arena space to see the theatre through different lenses—economics, racial dynamics, and American identity.
Ben-Hur (1959), Jaws (1975), Avatar (2009), Wonder Woman (2017): the blockbuster movie has held a dominant position in American popular culture for decades. In American Blockbuster Charles R. Acland charts the origins, impact, and dynamics of this most visible, entertaining, and disparaged cultural form. Acland narrates how blockbusters emerged from Hollywood's turn to a hit-driven focus during the industry's business crisis in the 1950s. Movies became bigger, louder, and more spectacular. They also became prototypes for ideas and commodities associated with the future of technology and culture, accelerating the prominence of technological innovation in modern American life. Acland shows that blockbusters continue to be more than just movies; they are industrial strategies and complex cultural machines designed to normalize the ideologies of our technological age.
Probably no decade saw as many changes in the Hollywood film industry and its product as the 1930s did. At the beginning of the decade, the industry was still struggling with the transition to talking pictures. Gangster films and naughty comedies starring Mae West were popular in urban areas, but aroused threats of censorship in the heartland. Whether the film business could survive the economic effects of the Crash was up in the air. By 1939, popularly called "Hollywood's Greatest Year," films like Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz used both color and sound to spectacular effect, and remain American icons today. The "mature oligopoly" that was the studio system had not only weathered the Depression and become part of mainstream culture through the establishment and enforcement of the Production Code, it was a well-oiled, vertically integrated industrial powerhouse.
The ten original essays in American Cinema of the 1930s focus on sixty diverse films of the decade, including Dracula, The Public Enemy, Trouble in Paradise, 42nd Street, King Kong, Imitation of Life, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Swing Time, Angels with Dirty Faces, Nothing Sacred, Jezebel, Mr. Smith Goes toWashington, and Stagecoach .
The 1940s was a watershed decade for American cinema and the nation. Shaking off the grim legacy of the Depression, Hollywood launched an unprecedented wave of production, generating some of its most memorable classics, including Citizen Kane, Rebecca, The Lady Eve, Sergeant York, and How Green Was My Valley. In 1942, Hollywood joined the national war effort with a vengeance, creating a series of patriotic and escapist films, such as Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, The Road to Morocco, and Yankee Doodle Dandy.
With the end of the war, returning GIs faced a new America, in which the country had been transformed overnight. Film noir reflected a new public mood of pessimism and paranoia, in such classic films of betrayal and conflict as Kiss of Death, Force of Evil, Caught, and Apology for Murder, depicting a poisonous universe of femme fatales, crooked lawyers, and corrupt politicians.
With the threat of the atom bomb lurking in the background and the beginnings of the Hollywood Blacklist, the 1940s was a decade of crisis and change. Featuring essays by a group of respected film scholars and historians, American Cinema of the 1940s brings this dynamic and turbulent decade to life. Illustrated with many rare stills and filled with provocative insights, the volume will appeal to students, teachers, and to all those interested in cultural history and American film of the twentieth century.
From cold war hysteria and rampant anticommunist witch hunts to the lure of suburbia, television, and the new consumerism, the 1950s was a decade of sensational commercial possibility coupled with dark nuclear fears and conformist politics. Amid this amalgamation of social, political, and cultural conditions, Hollywood was under siege: from the Justice Department, which pressed for big film companies to divest themselves of their theater holdings; from the middleclass, whose retreat to family entertainment inside the home drastically decreased the filmgoing audience; and from the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was attempting to purge the country of dissenting political views. In this difficult context, however, some of the most talented filmmakers of all time, including John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray, and Billy Wilder produced some of their most remarkable work.
Bringing together original essays by ten respected scholars in the field, American Cinema of the 1950s explores the impact of the cultural environment of this decade on film, and the impact of film on the American cultural milieu. Contributors examine the signature films of the decade, including From Here to Eternity, Sunset Blvd., Singin' in the Rain, Shane, Rear Window, and Rebel Without a Cause, as well as lesser-known but equally compelling films, such as Dial 1119, Mystery Street, Suddenly, Summer Stock, The Last Hunt, and many others.
Provocative, engaging, and accessible to general readers as well as scholars, this volume provides a unique lens through which to view the links between film and the prevailing social and historical events of the decade.
The profound cultural and political changes of the 1960s brought the United States closer to social revolution than at any other time in the twentieth century. The country fragmented as various challenges to state power were met with increasing and violent resistance. The Cold War heated up and the Vietnam War divided Americans. Civil rights, women's liberation, and gay rights further emerged as significant social issues. Free love was celebrated even as the decade was marked by assassinations, mass murders, and social unrest.
At the same time, American cinema underwent radical change as well. The studio system crumbled, and the Production Code was replaced by a new ratings system. Among the challenges faced by the film industry was the dawning shift in theatrical exhibition from urban centers to surburban multiplexes, an increase in runaway productions, the rise of independent producers, and competition from both television and foreign art films. Hollywood movies became more cynical, violent, and sexually explicit, reflecting the changing values of the time.
In ten original essays, American Cinema of the 1960s examines a range of films that characterized the decade, including Hollywood movies, documentaries, and independent and experimental films. Among the films discussed are Elmer Gantry, The Apartment, West Side Story, The Manchurian Candidate, To Kill aMockingbird, Cape Fear, Bonnie and Clyde, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Midnight Cowboy, and Easy Rider.
A smug glance at the seventies—he so-called "Me Decade"—unveils a kaleidoscope of big hair, blaring music, and broken politics—all easy targets for satire, cynicism, and ultimately even nostalgia. American Cinema of the 1970s, however, looks beyond the strobe lights to reveal how profoundly the seventies have influenced American life and how the films of that decade represent a peak moment in cinema history.
Far from a placid era, the seventies was a decade of social upheavals. Events such as the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State universities, the Watergate investigations, the legalization of abortion, and the end of the American involvement in Vietnam are only a few among the many landmark occurrences that challenged the foundations of American culture. The director-driven movies of this era reflect this turmoil, experimenting with narrative structures, offering a gallery of scruffy antiheroes, and revising traditional genre conventions.
Bringing together ten original essays, American Cinema of the 1970s examines the range of films that marked the decade, including Jaws, Rocky, Love Story, Shaft, Dirty Harry, The Godfather, Deliverance, The Exorcist, Shampoo, Taxi Driver, Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, Kramer vs. Kramer,and Apocalypse Now .
With the U.S. economy booming under President Bill Clinton and the cold war finally over, many Americans experienced peace and prosperity in the nineties. Digital technologies gained popularity, with nearly one billion people online by the end of the decade. The film industry wondered what the effect on cinema would be.
The essays in American Cinema of the 1990s examine the big-budget blockbusters and critically acclaimed independent films that defined the decade. The 1990s' most popular genre, action, channeled anxieties about global threats such as AIDS and foreign terrorist attacks into escapist entertainment movies. Horror films and thrillers were on the rise, but family-friendly pictures and feel-good romances netted big audiences too. Meanwhile, independent films captured hearts, engaged minds, and invaded Hollywood: by decade's end every studio boasted its own "art film" affiliate.
The decade from 2000 to 2009 is framed, at one end, by the traumatic catastrophe of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and, at the other, by the election of the first African American president of the United States. In between, the United States and the world witnessed the rapid expansion of new media and the Internet, such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina, political uprisings around the world, and a massive meltdown of world economies.
Amid these crises and revolutions, American films responded in multiple ways, sometimes directly reflecting these turbulent times, and sometimes indirectly couching history in traditional genres and stories. In American Cinema of the 2000s, essays from ten top film scholars examine such popular series as the groundbreaking Matrix films and the gripping adventures of former CIA covert operative Jason Bourne; new, offbeat films like Juno; and the resurgence of documentaries like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Each essay demonstrates the complex ways in which American culture and American cinema are bound together in subtle and challenging ways.
The 2010s might be remembered as a time of increased polarization in American life. The decade contained both the Obama era and the Trump era, and as the nation’s political fissures widened, so did the gap between the haves and have-nots. Hollywood reflected these divisions, choosing to concentrate on big franchise blockbusters at the expense of mid-budget films, while new players like Netflix and Amazon offered fresh opportunities for low-budget and independent filmmakers. As the movie business changed, films ranging from American Sniper to Get Out found ways to speak to the concerns of a divided nation.
The newest installment in the Screen Decades series, American Cinema in the 2010s takes a close look at the memorable movies, visionary filmmakers, and behind-the-scenes drama that made this decade such an exciting time to be a moviegoer. Each chapter offers an in-depth examination of a specific year, covering a wide variety of films, from blockbuster superhero movies like Black Panther and animated films like Frozen to smaller-budget biopics like I, Tonya and horror films like Hereditary. This volume introduces readers to a decade in which established auteurs like Quentin Tarantino were joined by an exceptionally diverse set of new talents, taking American cinema in new directions.
Examines the strengths and weaknesses of both the dramatic and cinematic arts
Is theater really dead? Does the theater, as its champions insist, really provide a more intimate experience than film? If so, how have changes in cinematic techniques and technologies altered the relationship between stage and film? What are the inherent limitations of representing three-dimensional spaces in a two-dimensional one, and vice versa?
American Drama in the Age of Film examines the strengths and weaknesses of both the dramatic and cinematic arts to confront the standard arguments in the film-versus-theater debate. Using widely known adaptations of ten major plays, Brietzke seeks to highlight the inherent powers of each medium and draw conclusions not just about how they differ, but how they ought to differ as well. He contrasts both stage and film productions of, among other works, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Sam Shepard’s True West, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Margaret Edson’s Wit, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. In reading the dual productions of these works, Brietzke finds that cinema has indeed stolen much of theater’s former thunder, by making drama more intimate, and visceral than most live events.
But theater is still vital and matters greatly, Brietzke argues, though for reasons that run counter to many of the virtues traditionally attributed to it as an art form, such as intimacy and spontaneity. Brietzke seeks to revitalize perceptions of theater by challenging those common pieties and offering a new critical paradigm, one that champions spectacle and simultaneity as the most, not least, important elements of drama.
The first in-depth look at this pioneering "reality TV" documentary.
Before 1973, the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California, lived in the privacy of their own home. With the airing of the documentary An American Family, that "privacy" extended to every American home that had a television in it-and there was no going back to the happy land of Beaver, Donna Reed, and Father Knows Best. This book is the first to offer a close, sustained look at An American Family-the documentary that blurred conventions, stirred passions among viewers and reviewers, revised impressions of family life and definitions of private and public, and began the breakdown of distinctions between reality and spectacle that culminated in cultural phenomena from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Survivor.
While placing Craig Gilbert's innovative series in the context of 1970s nonfiction film and television, Jeffrey Ruoff tells the story behind An American Family from conception to broadcast, from reception to long-term impact. He reintroduces us to the Louds as intimate details of their daily lives, from one child's dance recital to another's gay lifestyle to the parents' divorce proceedings, unfold first before the camera and then before American viewers, challenging audiences to think seriously about family, marital relations, sexuality, affluence, and the American dream. In the documentary's immediate impact-on both producers and viewers of media-Ruoff uncovers the roots of new nonfiction forms including confessional talk shows like Oprah, first-person documentary films like Ross McElwee's acclaimed Sherman's March, and reality TV programs such as The Real World, Survivor, and Big Brother.
A comprehensive production and reception study, Ruoff's work restores An American Family to its rightful, pioneering place in the history of American television.
Jeffrey Ruoff is a film historian, documentary filmmaker, and assistant professor of film and television studies at Dartmouth College. He is co-author (with Kenneth Ruoff) of The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1998).
The American Film Industry
Edited by Tino T. Balio University of Wisconsin Press, 1985 Library of Congress PN1993.5.U6A87 1985 | Dewey Decimal 384.80973
Upon its original publication in 1976, The American Film Industry was welcomed by film students, scholars, and fans as the first systematic and unified history of the American movie industry. Now this indispensible anthology has been expanded and revised to include a fresh introductory overview by editor Tino Balio and ten new chapters that explore such topics as the growth of exhibition as big business, the mode of production for feature films, the star as market strategy, and the changing economics and structure of contemporary entertainment companies. The result is a unique collection of essays, more comprehensive and current than ever, that reveals how the American movie industry really worked in a century of constant change-from kinetoscopes and the coming of sound to the star system, 1950s blacklisting, and today's corporate empires.
During the 1910s, films about war often featured a female protagonist. The films portrayed women as spies, cross-dressing soldiers, and athletic defenders of their homes—roles typically reserved for men and that contradicted gendered-expectations of home-front women waiting for their husbands, sons, and brothers to return from battle. The representation of American martial spirit—particularly in the form of heroines—has a rich history in film in the years just prior to the American entry into World War I. The American Girl Goes to War demonstrates the predominance of heroic female characters in in early narrative films about war from 1908 to 1919. American Girls were filled with the military spirit of their forefathers and became one of the major ways that American women’s changing political involvement, independence, and active natures were contained by and subsumed into pre-existing American ideologies.
Hollywood has always been fascinated by America's past, but never more so than in the past fifteen years. Bringing exciting new perspectives to how and why Hollywood has sought to repicture American history, this book offers analysis of more than twenty mainstream contemporary films, including The Patriot, Amistad, Glory, Ride with the Devil, Cold Mountain, Saving Private Ryan, TheThin Red Line, Pearl Harbor, U-571, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Heaven and Earth, JFK, Nixon, Malcolm X, Ali, Black Hawk Down, and Three Kings.
Both authoritative and engaging, American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film is the first book to comprehensively explore the post-cold war period of filmmaking, and to navigate the complex ways that film mediates history-sometimes challenging or questioning, but more frequently reaffirming traditional interpretations. The authors consider why such films are becoming increasingly integral to the ambitions of a globally focused American film industry.
Structured by historical periods, chapters cover significant events and eras such as the American Revolution, slavery and the Civil War, World War II, the sixties and seventies, civil rights and black nationalism, the Vietnam War, and post-cold war global conflicts. The lessons learned from the examples will be illuminating for general readers and college students alike.
From the prestige films of Cagney Productions to recent, ultra-low budget cult hits, such as Clerks and The Blair Witch Project, American independent cinema has produced some of the most distinctive films ever made. This comprehensive introduction draws on key films, filmmakers, and film companies from the early twentieth century to the present to examine the factors that shaped this vital and evolving mode of filmmaking.
Specifically, it explores the complex and dynamic relations between independent and mainstream Hollywood cinema, showing how institutional, industrial, and economic changes in the latter have shaped and informed the former. Ordered chronologically, the book begins with Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era (examining both top-rank and low-end film production), moves to the 1950s and 1960s (discussing both the adoption of independent filmmaking as the main method of production as well as exploitation filmmaking), and finishes with contemporary American independent cinema (exploring areas such as the New Hollywood, the rise of mini-major and major independent companies and the institutionalization of independent cinema in the 1990s). Each chapter includes case studies which focus on specific films, filmmakers, and production and distribution companies.
Jonathan Shandell provides the first in-depth study of the historic American Negro Theatre (ANT) and its lasting influence on American popular culture. Founded in 1940 in Harlem, the ANT successfully balanced expressions of African American consciousness with efforts to gain white support for the burgeoning civil rights movement. The theatre company featured innovative productions with emerging artists—Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, and many others—who would become giants of stage, film, and television. In 1944, the ANT made theatrical history by creating the smash hit Anna Lucasta, the most popular play with an African American cast ever to perform on Broadway. Starting from a shoestring budget, the ANT grew into one of the most important companies in the history of African American theatre. Though the group folded in 1949, it continued to shape American popular culture through the creative work of its many talented artists.
Examining oral histories, playbills, scripts, production stills, and journalistic accounts, Shandell gives us the most complete picture to date of the theatre company by analyzing well-known productions alongside groundbreaking and now-forgotten efforts. Shedding light on this often-overlooked chapter of African American history, which fell between the New Negro Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, Shandell reveals how the ANT became a valued community institution for Harlem—an important platform for African American artists to speak to racial issues—and a trailblazer in promoting integration and interracial artistic collaboration in the U.S. In doing so, Shandell also demonstrates how a small amateur ensemble of the 1940s succeeded in challenging, expanding, and transforming how African Americans were portrayed in the ensuing decades. The result is a fascinating and entertaining examination that will be of interest to scholars and students of African American and American studies and theatre history, as well as popular culture enthusiasts.
Studies of concert life in nineteenth-century America have generally been limited to large orchestras and the programs we are familiar with today. But as this book reveals, audiences of that era enjoyed far more diverse musical experiences than this focus would suggest. To hear an orchestra, people were more likely to head to a beer garden, restaurant, or summer resort than to a concert hall. And what they heard weren’t just symphonic works—programs also included opera excerpts and arrangements, instrumental showpieces, comic numbers, and medleys of patriotic tunes.
This book brings together musicologists and historians to investigate the many orchestras and programs that developed in nineteenth-century America. In addition to reflecting on the music that orchestras played and the socioeconomic aspects of building and maintaining orchestras, the book considers a wide range of topics, including audiences, entrepreneurs, concert arrangements, tours, and musicians’ unions. The authors also show that the period saw a massive influx of immigrant performers, the increasing ability of orchestras to travel across the nation, and the rising influence of women as listeners, patrons, and players. Painting a rich and detailed picture of nineteenth-century concert life, this collection will greatly broaden our understanding of America’s musical history.
Gregg Bachman and Thomas J. Slater present an array of essays that reveal the incredible complexity of silent films and the era in which they were produced. Essentially, silent films conjure the names of Mary Pickford and a few white men, including Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith. These eleven essays, however, demonstrate that minorities and women other than Pickford also responded to the times through film. The contributors deal with changing American society at a crucial time, examining our hopes and fears as a nation during the silent film era.
Opening new vistas, this book introduces us to people, films, issues, and concepts that few of us have encountered. One example is screenwriter June Mathis, who wrote more than one hundred scripts, brought Rudolph Valentino to stardom, and supervised all productions at the Goldwyn Studios in 1923. Equally intriguing is Nita Naldi, whose career and tragic life speak volumes about America’s combined fascination with and fear of ethnic minorities. Other key players in the drama of silent films include John Randolph Bray (animated cartoons), Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and female producer, writer, and director Nell Shipman.
Contributors are Kay Armatage, Jean Chateauvert, Maureen Furniss, Mark Langer, Anne Morey, Diane Negra, George Potamianos, Joanna Rapf, Thomas J. Slater, Sam Stoloff, and Judith Thissen.
Seventeen illustrations enliven this study of silent film.
In this groundbreaking study, Bruce McConachie uses the primary metaphor of containment—what happens when we categorize a play, a television show, or anything we view as having an inside, an outside, and a boundary between the two—as the dominant metaphor of cold war theatergoing. Drawing on the cognitive psychology and linguistics of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, he provides unusual access to the ways in which spectators in the cold war years projected themselves into stage figures that gave them pleasure.
McConachie reconstructs these cognitive processes by relying on scripts, set designs, reviews, memoirs, and other evidence. After establishing his theoretical framework, he focuses on three archtypal figures of containment significant in Cold War culture, Empty Boys, Family Circles, and Fragmented Heroes. McConachie uses a range of plays, musicals, and modern dances from the dominant culture of the Cold War to discuss these figures, including The Seven Year Itch, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The King and I,A Raisin in the Sun, Night Journey, and The Crucible. In an epilogue, he discusses the legacy of Cold War theater from 1962 to 1992.
Original and provocative, American Theater in the Culture of the Cold War illuminates the mind of the spectator in the context of Cold War culture; it uses cognitive studies and media theory to move away from semiotics and psychoanalysis, forging a new way of interpreting theater history.
When John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, his older brother Edwin was devastated. A leading stage star, Edwin Booth thought his career had ended. But with the support of countless theatergoers, over the next thirty years Booth would overcome the shadow of John Wilkes’s infamy and steadily advance a reputation as America’s greatest-ever Shakespearean actor, the American tragedian par excellence.
Daniel J. Watermeier has, through decades of tireless research paired with his own sharp insight, put together the most complete Edwin Booth biography to date. Drawing on a wealth of archival materials and contemporary theatrical scholarship, American Tragedian: The Life of Edwin Booth gives more attention than previous biographies to Booth’s apprentice and journeyman years; his rise in antebellum America to stardom with a new, acclaimed style of acting; his work as an innovative theater builder and theatrical producer; his several foreign tours; and his nationwide tours in the late 1880s. It also addresses Booth’s critical reception in dozens of cities in America and abroad and situates his professional activities within the events and trends of the time.
As interesting as it is informative, Watermeier’s book offers an in-depth look at the triumphal career and tumultuous life of one of the American stage’s most celebrated figures.
Geoffrey Hilsabeck West Virginia University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN1968.U5H55 2021 | Dewey Decimal 792.70973
A dreamlike, evocative reckoning with a lost epoch in popular culture—and with old, weird America.
At the heart of American Vaudeville is one strange, unsettling fact: for nearly fifty years, from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s, vaudeville was everywhere—then, suddenly, it was nowhere. This book tells the story of what was once the most popular form of entertainment in the country using lists, creation myths, thumbnail biographies, dreams, and obituaries. A lyric history—part social history, part song—American Vaudeville sits at the nexus between poetry, experimental nonfiction, and, because it includes historic images, art books.
Geoffrey Hilsabeck’s book grows out of extensive archival research. Rather than arranging that research—the remains of vaudeville—into a realistic picture or tidy narrative, Hilsabeck dreams vaudeville back into existence, drawing on photographs, letters, joke books, reviews, newspaper stories, anecdotes, and other material gathered from numerous archives, as well as from memoirs by vaudeville performers like Buster Keaton, Eva Tanguay, and Eddie Cantor. Some of this research is presented as-is, a letter from a now forgotten vaudeville performer to her booking agent, for example; some is worked up into brief scenes and biographies; and some is put to even more imaginative uses, finding new life in dialogues and prose poems.
American Vaudeville pulls the past into the present and finds in the beauty and carnivalesque grotesqueness of vaudeville a fitting image of American life today.
American War Stories
Brenda M. Boyle Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress HM554.B698 2020 | Dewey Decimal 303.66
American War Stories asks readers to contemplate what traditionally constitutes a “war story” and how that constitution obscures the normalization of militarism in American culture. The book claims the traditionally narrow scope of “war story,” as by a combatant about his wartime experience, compartmentalizes war, casting armed violence as distinct from everyday American life. Broadening “war story” beyond the specific genres of war narratives such as “war films,” “war fiction,” or “war memoirs,” American War Stories exposes how ingrained militarism is in everyday American life, a condition that challenges the very democratic principles the United States is touted as exemplifying.
With a claim on artists from Jimmie Rodgers to Jason Isbell, Americana can be hard to define, but you know it when you hear it. John Milward’s Americanaland is filled with the enduring performers and vivid stories that are at the heart of Americana. At base a hybrid of rock and country, Americana is also infused with folk, blues, R&B, bluegrass, and other types of roots music. Performers like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Gram Parsons used these ingredients to create influential music that took well-established genres down exciting new roads. The name Americana was coined in the 1990s to describe similarly inclined artists like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Wilco. Today, Brandi Carlile and I’m With Her are among the musicians carrying the genre into the twenty-first century.
Essential and engaging, Americanaland chronicles the evolution and resonance of this ever-changing amalgam of American music. Margie Greve’s hand-embroidered color portraits offer a portfolio of the pioneers and contemporary practitioners of Americana.
America’ s First Network TV Censor: The Work of NBC’ s Stockton Helffrich is a unique examination of early television censorship, centered around the papers of Stockton Helffrich, the first manager of the censorship department at NBC. Set against the backdrop of postwar America and contextualized by myriad primary sources including original interviews and unpublished material, Helffrich’ s reports illustrate how early censorship of advertising, language, and depictions of sex, violence, and race shaped the new medium. While other books have cited Helffrich’ s reports, none have considered them as a body of work, complemented by the details of Helffrich’ s life and the era in which he lived. America’ s First Network TV Censor explores the ways in which Helffrich’ s personal history and social class influenced his perception of his role as NBC-TV censor and his tendency to ignore certain political and cultural taboos while embracing others.
Author Robert Pondillo considers Helffrich’ s life in broadcasting before and after the Second World War, and his censorial work in the context of 1950s American culture and emerging network television. Pondillo discusses the ways that cultural phenomena, including the arrival of the mid-twentieth-century religious boom, McCarthyism, the dawn of the Civil Rights era, and the social upheaval over sex, music, and youth, contributed to a general sense that the country was morally adrift and ripe for communist takeover.
Five often-censored subjects— advertising, language, and depictions of sex, violence, and race— are explored in detail, exposing the surprising complexity and nuance of early media censorship. Questions of whether too many sadistic westerns would coarsen America’ s children, how to talk about homosexuality without using the word “ homosexuality,” and how best to advertise toilet paper without offending people were on Helffrich’ s mind; his answers to these questions helped shape the broadcast media we know today.
America’s Japan and Japan’s Performing Arts studies the images and myths that have shaped the reception of Japan-related theater, music, and dance in the United States since the 1950s. Soon after World War II, visits by Japanese performing artists to the United States emerged as a significant category of American cultural-exchange initiatives aimed at helping establish and build friendly ties with Japan. Barbara E. Thornbury explores how “Japan” and “Japanese culture” have been constructed, reconstructed, and transformed in response to the hundreds of productions that have taken place over the past sixty years in New York, the main entry point and defining cultural nexus in the United States for the global touring market in the performing arts. The author’s transdisciplinary approach makes the book appealing to those in the performing arts studies, Japanese studies, and cultural studies.
The eighteenth century saw the creation of a number of remarkable mechanical androids: at least ten prominent automata were built between 1735 and 1810 by clockmakers, court mechanics, and other artisans from France, Switzerland, Austria, and the German lands. Designed to perform sophisticated activities such as writing, drawing, or music making, these “Enlightenment automata” have attracted continuous critical attention from the time they were made to the present, often as harbingers of the modern industrial age, an era during which human bodies and souls supposedly became mechanized.
In Androids in the Enlightenment, Adelheid Voskuhl investigates two such automata—both depicting piano-playing women. These automata not only play music, but also move their heads, eyes, and torsos to mimic a sentimental body technique of the eighteenth century: musicians were expected to generate sentiments in themselves while playing, then communicate them to the audience through bodily motions. Voskuhl argues, contrary to much of the subsequent scholarly conversation, that these automata were unique masterpieces that illustrated the sentimental culture of a civil society rather than expressions of anxiety about the mechanization of humans by industrial technology. She demonstrates that only in a later age of industrial factory production did mechanical androids instill the fear that modern selves and societies had become indistinguishable from machines.
When Andy Kaufman succumbed suddenly to lung cancer in 1984, some of his fans believed that his death was yet another elaborate prank. Over the previous decade, Kaufman had achieved improbable fame for his bizarre antiperformances—lip-synching the Mighty Mouse theme song, reading The Great Gatsby aloud in its entirety when people expected comedy, asking audience members to touch a boil on his neck—that perplexed, annoyed, or offended his viewers.
In Andy Kaufman, Florian Keller explores Kaufman’s career within a broader discussion of the ideology of the American Dream. Taking as his starting point the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon, Keller brilliantly decodes Kaufman in a way that makes it possible to grasp his radical agenda beyond avant-garde theories of transgression. As an entertainer, Kaufman submerged his identity beneath a multiplicity of personas, enacting the American belief that the self can and should be endlessly remade for the sake of happiness and success. He did this so rigorously and consistently, Keller argues, that he exposed the internal contradictions of America’s ideology of self-invention.
Keller posits that Kaufman offered a radically different—and perhaps more potent—logic of cultural criticism than did more overtly political comedians such as Lenny Bruce. Presenting close readings of Kaufman’s most significant performances, Keller shows how Kaufman mounted—for the benefit of an often uncomprehending public—a sustained and remarkable critique of America’s obsession with celebrity and individualism.
Florian Keller is a fellow at the Institute of Cultural Studies, School of Art and Design, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Zurich.
Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy examines the significant roles that theater patrons have played in shaping and developing theater in the United States. Because box office income rarely covers the cost of production, other sources are vital. Angels—financial investors and backers—have a tremendous impact on what happens on stage, often determining with the power and influence of their money what is conceived, produced, and performed. But in spite of their influence, very little has been written about these philanthropists.
Composed of sixteen essays and fifteen illustrations, Angels in the American Theater explores not only how donors became angels but also their backgrounds, motivations, policies, limitations, support, and successes and failures. Subjects range from millionaires Otto Kahn and the Lewisohn sisters to foundation giants Ford, Rockefeller, Disney, and Clear Channel. The first book to focus on theater philanthropy, Angels in the American Theater employs both a historical and a chronological format and focuses on individual patrons, foundations, and corporations.
We all have an animal story—the pet we loved, the wild animal that captured our childhood imagination, the deer the neighbor hit while driving. While scientific breakthroughs in animal cognition, the effects of global climate change and dwindling animal habitats, and the exploding interdisciplinary field of animal studies have complicated things, such stories remain a part of how we tell the story of being human. Animal Acts collects eleven exciting, provocative, and moving stories by solo performers, accompanied by commentary that places the works in a broader context.
Work by leading theater artists Holly Hughes, Rachel Rosenthal, Deke Weaver, Carmelita Tropicana, and others joins commentary by major scholars including Donna Haraway, Jane Desmond, Jill Dolan, and Nigel Rothfels. Una Chaudhuri’s introduction provides a vital foundation for understanding and appreciating the intersection of animal studies and performance. The anthology foregrounds questions of race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, and other issues central to the human project within the discourse of the “post human,” and will appeal to readers interested in solo performance, animal studies, gender studies, performance studies, and environmental studies.
Animating Film Theory
Karen Beckman, ed. Duke University Press, 2014 Library of Congress NC1765.A535 2014 | Dewey Decimal 791.4334
Animating Film Theory provides an enriched understanding of the relationship between two of the most unwieldy and unstable organizing concepts in cinema and media studies: animation and film theory. For the most part, animation has been excluded from the purview of film theory. The contributors to this collection consider the reasons for this marginalization while also bringing attention to key historical contributions across a wide range of animation practices, geographic and linguistic terrains, and historical periods. They delve deep into questions of how animation might best be understood, as well as how it relates to concepts such as the still, the moving image, the frame, animism, and utopia. The contributors take on the kinds of theoretical questions that have remained underexplored because, as Karen Beckman argues, scholars of cinema and media studies have allowed themselves to be constrained by too narrow a sense of what cinema is. This collection reanimates and expands film studies by taking the concept of animation seriously.
Contributors. Karen Beckman, Suzanne Buchan, Scott Bukatman, Alan Cholodenko, Yuriko Furuhata, Alexander R. Galloway, Oliver Gaycken, Bishnupriya Ghosh, Tom Gunning, Andrew R. Johnston, Hervé Joubert-Laurencin, Gertrud Koch, Thomas LaMarre, Christopher P. Lehman, Esther Leslie, John MacKay, Mihaela Mihailova, Marc Steinberg, Tess Takahashi
Curtis, Scott Rutgers University Press, 2019 Library of Congress TR897.5.A55 2019 | Dewey Decimal 776.6
From the earliest motion pictures and cartoons of the 1900s, to the latest 3D animated feature and CGI blockbuster, animation has always been a part of the cinematic experience. While the boundaries between animation and live-action have often been carefully tended, the ubiquity of contemporary computer imaging certainly blurs those lines, thereby confirming the importance of animation for the history of American cinema. The last installment of the acclaimed Behind the Silver Screen series, Animation explores the variety of technologies and modes of production throughout the history of American animation: the artisanal, solitary labors of early animators such as Winsor McCay, or of independent animators such as Mary Ellen Bute; the industrial assembly lines of Hollywood studio-unit animation; the parsimonious production houses of the post-studio, post-war era; the collaborative approach of boutique animation and special-effect houses. Drawing on archival sources, this volume provides not only an overview of American animation history, but also, by focusing on the relationship between production and style, a unique approach to understanding animation in general.
The "cartoon"in the output of the all conquering Disney studio, the anarchic antics of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in Looney Tunes, and the satiric vision of the Simpsons on television is synonymous with the United States, but the genre rarely is taken seriously. Nevertheless, cartoons are important artistic and cultural achievements, and are an essential ingredient in how America is viewed, both by itself and by others.
In Animation and America, Paul Wells looks afresh at this unique art, discussing the distinctiveness of the cartoon form, as well as myriad other types of animation production. Insisting upon the "modernity" of the genre, Wells examines its importance as a barometer of the social conditions in which it is made and which it reflects. This book is not a standard history of animation in America, but rather uses animation as a way of discussing social and political change. Wells concentrates on the ways in which the form continues to grow, experiment, and remain subversiveand, increasingly, gaining acclaim and recognition. Now in the vanguard of visual culture, animation occupies an important position in representing both the outcomes and impacts of new technologies, and it also has laid the foundations for a new understanding of social and artistic practice.
"An engrossing biography about the marital breakdown of a major literary figure, of particular interest for what it reveals about O'Neill's creative process, activities, and bohemian lifestyle at the time of his early successes and some of his most interesting experimental work. In addition, King's discussion of Boulton's efforts as a writer of pulp fiction in the early part of the 20th century reveals an interesting side of popular fiction writing at that time, and gives insight into the lifestyle of the liberated woman."
---Stephen Wilmer, Trinity College, Dublin
Biographers of American playwright Eugene O'Neill have been quick to label his marriage to actress Carlotta Monterey as the defining relationship of his illustrious career. But in doing so, they overlook the woman whom Monterey replaced---Agnes Boulton, O'Neill's wife of over a decade and mother to two of his children. O'Neill and Boulton were wed in 1918---a time when she was a successful pulp novelist and he was still a little-known writer of one-act plays. During the decade of their marriage, he gained fame as a Broadway dramatist who rejected commercial compromise, while she mapped that contentious territory known as the literary marriage. His writing reflected her, and hers reflected him, as they tried to realize progressive ideas about what a marriage should be. But after O'Neill left the marriage, he and new love Carlotta Monterey worked diligently to put Boulton out of sight and mind---and most O'Neill biographers have been quick to follow suit.
William Davies King has brought Agnes Boulton to light again, providing new perspectives on America's foremost dramatist, the dynamics of a literary marriage, and the story of a woman struggling to define herself in the early twentieth century. King shows how the configuration of O'Neill and Boulton's marriage helps unlock many of O'Neill's plays. Drawing on more than sixty of Boulton's published and unpublished writings, including her 1958 memoir, Part of a Long Story, and an extensive correspondence, King rescues Boulton from literary oblivion while offering the most radical revisionary reading of the work of Eugene O'Neill in a generation.
William Davies King is Professor of Theater at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of several books, most recently Collections of Nothing, chosen by Amazon.com as one of the Best Books of 2008.
Illustration: Eugene O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, and Agnes Boulton ca. 1923. Eugene O'Neill Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
From Bangladesh and Hong Kong to Iran and South Africa, film industries around the world are rapidly growing at a time when new digital technologies are fundamentally changing how films are made and viewed. Larger film industries like Bollywood and Nollywood aim to attain Hollywood's audience and profitability while smaller, less commercial, and often state-funded enterprises support various cultural and political projects. The contributors to Anthropology, Film Industries, Modularity take an ethnographic and comparative approach to capturing the diversity and growth of global film industries. They outline how modularity—the specialized filmmaking tasks that collectively produce a film—operates as a key feature in every film industry independent of local context. Whether examining the process of dubbing Hollywood films into Hindi, virtual reality filmmaking in South Africa, or on-location shooting in Yemen, the contributors' anthropological methodology brings into relief both the universal practices and the local contingencies and deeper cultural realities of film production in new ways.
Contributors. Steven C. Caton, Jess Dickson, Kevin Dwyer, Tejaswini Ganti, Lotte Hoek, Amrita Ibrahim, Sylvia J. Martin, Ramyar D. Rossoukh
In this highly praised and seminal work, Alan Merriam demonstrates that music is a social behavior—one worthy and available to study through the methods of anthropology. In it, he convincingly argues that ethnomusicology, by definition, cannot separate the sound-analysis of music from its cultural context of people thinking, acting, and creating.
The study begins with a review of the various approaches in ethnomusicology. He then suggests a useful and simple research model: ideas about music lead to behavior related to music and this behavior results in musical sound. He explains many aspects and outcomes of this model, and the methods and techniques he suggests are useful to anyone doing field work. Further chapters provide a cross-cultural round-up of concepts about music, physical and verbal behavior related to music, the role of the musician, and the learning and composing of music.
The Anthropology of Music illuminates much of interest to musicologists but to social scientists in general as well.
Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape studies an overlooked yet fundamental element of German popular culture in the twentieth century. In tracing Jewish filmmakers’ contemplations of “Heimat”—a provincial German landscape associated with belonging and authenticity—it analyzes their distinctive contribution to the German identity discourse between 1918 and 1968. In its emphasis on rootedness and homogeneity Heimat seemed to challenge the validity and significance of Jewish emancipation. Several acculturation-seeking Jewish artists and intellectuals, however, endeavored to conceive a notion of Heimat that would rather substantiate their belonging.
This book considers Jewish filmmakers’ contribution to this endeavor. It shows how they devised the landscapes of the German “Homeland” as Jews, namely, as acculturated “outsiders within.” Through appropriation of generic Heimat imagery, the films discussed in the book integrate criticism of national chauvinism into German mainstream culture from World War I to the Cold War. Consequently, these Jewish filmmakers anticipated the anti-Heimat film of the ensuing decades, and functioned as an uncredited inspiration for the critical New German Cinema.
From the bachelor pad that Jack Lemmon's C. C. Baxter loans out to his superiors in Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960) to the crumbling tenement in a dystopian Taipei in Tsai Ming-liang's The Hole (1998), the apartment in films and television series is often more than just a setting: it can motivate or shape the narrative in key ways. Such works belong to a critical genre identified by Pamela Robertson Wojcik as the apartment plot, which comprises specific thematic, visual, and narrative conventions that explore modern urbanism's various forms and possibilities. In The Apartment Complex a diverse group of international scholars discuss the apartment plot in a global context, examining films made both within and beyond the Hollywood studios. The contributors consider the apartment plot's intersections with film noir, horror, comedy, and the musical, addressing how different national or historical contexts modify the apartment plot and how the genre's framework allows us to rethink the work of auteurs and identify productive connections and tensions between otherwise disparate texts.
Contributors. Steven Cohan, Michael DeAngelis, Veronica Fitzpatrick, Annamarie Jagose, Paula J. Massood, Joe McElhaney, Merrill Schleier, Lee Wallace, Pamela Robertson Wojcik
Rethinking the significance of films including Pillow Talk, Rear Window, and The Seven Year Itch, Pamela Robertson Wojcik examines the popularity of the “apartment plot,” her term for stories in which the apartment functions as a central narrative device. From the baby boom years into the 1970s, the apartment plot was not only key to films; it also surfaced in TV shows, Broadway plays, literature, and comic strips, from The Honeymooners and The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Subways are for Sleeping and Apartment 3-G. By identifying the apartment plot as a film genre, Wojcik reveals affinities between movies generally viewed as belonging to such distinct genres as film noir, romantic comedy, and melodrama. She analyzes the apartment plot as part of a mid-twentieth-century urban discourse, showing how it offers a vision of home centered on values of community, visibility, contact, mobility, impermanence, and porousness that contrasts with views of home as private, stable, and family-based. Wojcik suggests that the apartment plot presents a philosophy of urbanism related to the theories of Jane Jacobs and Henri Lefebvre. Urban apartments were important spaces for negotiating gender, sexuality, race, and class in mid-twentieth-century America.
Stephen Prince Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A64P75 2021 | Dewey Decimal 791.43615
Vivid images of the apocalypse proliferate throughout contemporary cinema, which pictures the death of civilization in wildly different ways. Some films imagine a future where humanity is wiped out entirely, while others envision humans as an endangered species, enslaved by alien invaders or hunted by zombie hordes.
This book provides a lively overview of apocalypse cinema, including alien invasions, nuclear annihilation, asteroid collisions, climate change, and terrifying plagues. Covering pivotal films from the silent era to the present day, including Metropolis, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dr. Strangelove, Contagion, and Avengers: Endgame, Stephen Prince explores how these dark visions are rooted in religious and prophetic traditions, and he considers how our love for apocalypse cinema is tied to fundamental existential questions and anxieties that never go out of fashion.
Apocalypse, with its promise of millenarian transformation, has been one of the twentieth century’s powerful driving forces, in aesthetics as well as in politics. This special Millennium Issue of Theater offers a radical rethinking of theatrical modernism and the avant-garde in the light of apocalypse—the violent destruction of the old to “Make It New,” as Ezra Pound urged. This major collection of essays and play texts explores how modernist theater both reflected and contributed to the century’s unparalleled social and political upheavals. Featuring previously unpublished texts and translations by Karl Kraus, Tennessee Williams, Heiner Müller, and David Cole, this collection shows that twentieth-century theater transformed many of the traditional elements of classical apocalyptic literature for modern ends. The volume’s contributors consider playwrights, theories, and movement spanning the past one hundred years, providing a startling new perspective on modern drama from Ibsen and Jarry to Adrienne Kennedy and Tony Kushner.
Contributors. Gabrielle Cody, Linda Dorff, Michael Evenden, Elinor Fuchs, Daniel Gerould, Sylvére Lotringer, Matthew Wilson Smith, Kirk Williams
In Appalachian Dance, Susan Eike Spalding employs twenty-five years' worth of rich interviews with black and white Virginians, Tennesseeans, and Kentuckians to explore the evolution and social uses of dance practices in each region.
Spalding analyzes how issues as disparate as industrialization around coal, race relations, and the 1970s folk revival profoundly influenced freestyle clogging and other dance forms. She reveals how African Americans and Native Americans, as well as European immigrants drawn to the timber mills and coal fields, added to local dance vocabularies. By placing each community in its sociopolitical and economic context, Spalding explores how the formal and stylistic nuances found in Appalachian dance reflect the beliefs, shared understandings, and experiences of the community at large.
Aquí and Allá: Transnational Dominican Theater and Performance explores how contemporary Dominican theater and performance artists portray a sense of collective belonging shaped by the transnational connections between the homeland and the diaspora. Through close readings of plays and performances produced in the Dominican Republic and the United States in dialogue with theories of theater and performance, migration theory, and literary, cultural, and historical studies, this book situates theater and performance in debates on Dominican history and culture and the impact of migration on the changing character of national identity from end of the twentieth century to the present. By addressing local audiences of island-based and diasporic Dominicans with stories of characters who are shaped by both places, the theatrical performances analyzed in this book operate as a democratizing force on conceptions of Dominican identity and challenge assumptions about citizenship and national belonging. Likewise, the artists’ bi-national perspectives and work methods challenge the paradigms that have traditionally framed Latin(o) American theater studies.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, something new made itself felt in European culture—a tone or style that came to be called the sentimental. The sentimental mode went on to shape not just literature, art, music, and cinema, but people’s very structures of feeling, their ways of doing and being.
In what is sure to become a critical classic, An Archaeology of Sympathy challenges Sergei Eisenstein’s influential account of Dickens and early American film by tracing the unexpected history and intricate strategies of the sentimental mode and showing how it has been reimagined over the past three centuries. James Chandler begins with a look at Frank Capra and the Capraesque in American public life, then digs back to the eighteenth century to examine the sentimental substratum underlying Dickens and early cinema alike. With this surprising move, he reveals how literary spectatorship in the eighteenth century anticipated classic Hollywood films such as Capra’s It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Chandler then moves forward to romanticism and modernism—two cultural movements often seen as defined by their rejection of the sentimental—examining how authors like Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf actually engaged with sentimental forms and themes in ways that left a mark on their work.
Reaching from Laurence Sterne to the Coen brothers, An Archaeology of Sympathy casts new light on the long eighteenth century and the novelistic forebears of cinema and our modern world.
Archie Bunker’s America discerns what was “in the air” as television networks tried to accommodate cultural and political swings in America from the Vietnam era through the late 1970s. Josh Ozersky’s spirited examination of the ways America changed television during a period of intense social upheaval, recuperation, and fragmentation uncovers a bold and beguiling facet of American cultural history. From the conflict-based comedy of All in the Family and such post-sixties frolics as Three’s Company to tendentiously apolitical programs like Happy Days, Ozersky describes the range and power of television to echo larger schemes of American life.
Around 1968, advertisers who were anxious to break into the lucrative baby-boomer demographic convinced television networks to begin to abandon prime-time programming that catered to universal audiences. With the market splintering, networks ventured into more issue-based and controversial territories. While early network attempts at more “relevant” programming failed, Ozersky examines how CBS struck gold with the political comedy All in the Family in 1971 and how other successful, conflict-based comedies turned away from typical show business conventions. As the 1970s wore on, the innovations of the previous years began to lose their public appeal. After Vietnam and Watergate, Ozersky argues, Americans were exhausted from the political turbulence of the preceding decade and were ready for a televisual “return to normalcy.”
Straightforward, engaging, and liberally illustrated, Archie Bunker’s America is peppered with the stories of outsider cops and failed variety shows, of a young Bill Murray and an old Ed Sullivan, of Mary Tyler Moore, Fonzie, and the Skipper, too. Drawing on interviews with television insiders, trade publications, and the programs themselves, Ozersky chronicles the ongoing attempts of prime-time television to program for a fragmented audience—an audience whose greatest common denominator, by 1978, may well have been the act of watching television itself. The book also includes a foreword by renowned media critic Mark Crispin Miller and an epilogue of related commentary on the following decades.
Taking the reader on an inward journey from façades to closets, from physical to psychic space, Architectural Involutions offers an alternative genealogy of theater by revealing how innovations in architectural writing and practice transformed an early modern sense of interiority. The book launches from a matrix of related “platforms”—a term that in early modern usage denoted scaffolds, stages, and draftsmen’s sketches—to situate Alberti, Shakespeare, Jonson, and others within a landscape of spatial and visual change.
As the English house underwent a process of inward folding, replacing a logic of central assembly with one of dissemination, the subject who negotiated this new scenography became a flashpoint of conflict in both domestic and theatrical arenas. Combining theory with archival findings, Mimi Yiu reveals an emergent desire to perform subjectivity, to unfold an interior face to an admiring public. Highly praised for its lucid writing, comprehensive supplementary material, and engaging tone, Architectural Involutions was the winner of the 2016 MLA Prize for Independent Scholars.
Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the worldwide mass protest movements of 1968—against war, imperialism, racism, poverty, misogyny, and homophobia—the exciting anthology Architectures of Revolt explores the degree to which the real events of political revolt in the urban landscape in 1968 drove change in the attitudes and practices of filmmakers and architects alike.
In and around 1968, as activists and filmmakers took to the streets, commandeering public space, buildings, and media attention, they sought to re-make the urban landscape as an expression of utopian longing or as a dystopian critique of the established order. In Architectures of Revolt, the editor and contributors chronicle city-specific case studies from Paris, Berlin, Milan, and Chicago to New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Tokyo. The films discussed range from avant-garde and agitprop shorts to mainstream narrative feature films. All of them share a focus on the city and, often, particular streets and buildings as places of political contestation and sometimes violence, which the medium of cinema was uniquely equipped to capture.
Contributors include: Stephen Barber,Stanley Corkin,Jesse Lerner, Jon Lewis,Gaetana Marrone, Jennifer Stob, Andrew Webber, and the editor.
In Archiveology Catherine Russell uses the work of Walter Benjamin to explore how the practice of archiveology—the reuse, recycling, appropriation, and borrowing of archival sounds and images by filmmakers—provides ways to imagine the past and the future. Noting how the film archive does not function simply as a place where moving images are preserved, Russell examines a range of films alongside Benjamin's conceptions of memory, document, excavation, and historiography. She shows how city films such as Nicole Védrès's Paris 1900 (1947) and Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) reconstruct notions of urban life and uses Christian Marclay's The Clock (2010) to draw parallels between critical cinephilia and Benjamin's theory of the phantasmagoria. Russell also discusses practices of collecting in archiveological film and rereads films by Joseph Cornell and Rania Stephan to explore an archival practice that dislocates and relocates the female image in film. In so doing, she not only shows how Benjamin's work is as relevant to film theory as ever; she shows how archiveology can awaken artists and audiences to critical forms of history and memory.
The Greek playwright Aristophanes (active 427–386 BCE) is often portrayed as the poet who brought stability, discipline, and sophistication to the rowdy theatrical genre of Old Comedy. In this groundbreaking book, situated within the affective turn in the humanities, Mario Telò explores a vital yet understudied question: how did this view of Aristophanes arise, and why did his popularity eventually eclipse that of his rivals?
Telò boldly traces Aristophanes’s rise, ironically, to the defeat of his play Clouds at the Great Dionysia of 423 BCE. Close readings of his revised Clouds and other works, such as Wasps, uncover references to the earlier Clouds, presented by Aristophanes as his failed attempt to heal the audience, who are reflected in the plays as a kind of dysfunctional father. In this proto-canonical narrative of failure, grounded in the distinctive feelings of different comic modes, Aristophanic comedy becomes cast as a prestigious object, a soft, protective cloak meant to shield viewers from the debilitating effects of competitors’ comedies and restore a sense of paternal responsibility and authority. Associations between afflicted fathers and healing sons, between audience and poet, are shown to be at the center of the discourse that has shaped Aristophanes’s canonical dominance ever since.
Tuning is the secret lens through which the history of music falls into focus, says Kyle Gann. Yet in Western circles, no other musical issue is so ignored, so taken for granted, so shoved into the corners of musical discourse. A classroom essential and an invaluable reference, The Arithmetic of Listening offers beginners the grounding in music theory necessary to find their own way into microtonality and the places it may take them. Moving from ancient Greece to the present, Kyle Gann delves into the infinite tunings available to any musician who feels straitjacketed by obedience to standardized Western European tuning. He introduces the concept of the harmonic series and demonstrates its relationship to equal-tempered and well-tempered tuning. He also explores recent experimental tuning models that exploit smaller intervals between pitches to create new sounds and harmonies. Systematic and accessible, The Arithmetic of Music provides a much-needed primer for the wide range of tuning systems that have informed Western music.
Charles Rosen University of Chicago Press, 1996 Library of Congress ML410.S283R65 1996 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
In this lucid, revealing book, award-winning pianist and scholar Charles Rosen sheds light on the elusive music of Arnold Schoenberg and his challenge to conventional musical forms. Rosen argues that Schoenberg's music, with its atonality and dissonance, possesses a rare balance of form and emotion, making it, according to Rosen, "the most expressive music ever written." Concise and accessible, this book will appeal to fans, non-fans, and scholars of Schoenberg, and to those who have yet to be introduced to the works of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century.
"Arnold Schoenberg is one of the most brilliant monographs ever to be published on any composer, let alone the most difficult master of the present age. . . . Indispensable to anyone seeking to understand the crucial musical ideas of the first three decades."—Robert Craft, New York Review of Books
"What Mr. Rosen does far better than one could reasonably expect in so concise a book is not only elucidate Schoenberg's composing techniques and artistic philosophy but to place them in history."—Donal Henahan, New York Times Book Review
"For the novice and the knowledgeable, Mr. Rosen's book is very important reading, either as an introduction to the master or as a stimulus to rethinking our opinions of him. Mr. Rosen's accomplishment is enviable."—Joel Sachs, Musical Quarterly
From 1946 until 1954, the San Francisco-based film society Art in Cinema presented programs of independent film to audiences at the San Francisco Museum of Art and the University of California, Berkeley. Led by filmmaker Frank Stauffacher, Art in Cinema's programs pioneered the promotion of avant-garde cinema in America.
Scott MacDonald's Art in Cinema presents complete programs presented by the legendary society; dozens of previously unavailable letters between Stauffacher, his collaborators, and filmmakers including Maya Deren, Hans Richter, Vincent Minelli, and Man Ray; a reprint of the society's original catalog, which features essays by Henry Miller and others; and a wide range of other remarkable historical documents.
A companion to Cinema 16 (Temple), a documentary history of the first west coast film society, Art in Cinema provides cineastes, students, teachers, and scholars with extensive and fascinating documentation of one of the most important film societies in American history. Together or separately, the books provide an indispensable reference source for the beginning of this country's love affair with independent film.
The new musical theatre of Stephen Sondheim shuns the traditional story of love triumphant, probing instead the more disturbing issues of contemporary life.
Confident that the musical is America’s greatest original contribution to theatre, Joanne Gordon explicates the works of Sondheim to repudiate the common perception of the genre as mere escapist entertainment.
Gordon notes that Sondheim tackles real themes, that he has no fear of introducing pain, trauma, and complex ideas onto the Broadway stage. Tracing Sondheim’s career from his initial success as lyricist for West Side Story and Gypsy to the opening of Into the Woods, Gordon demonstrates that the value of Sondheim’s work obviously lies in its seriousness of theme coupled with its disturbing content; less obvious, but equally important, is Sondheim’s innovative use of form.
From A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum through Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods, Sondheim’s music and lyrics prove to be inextricably woven into the fabric of the entire work. Both music and lyrics, Gordon stresses, "grow out of the dramatic idea inherent in the show’s concept and themselves become part of the drama that previous theatre songs would only reflect."
Sondheim, Gordon notes, asks much of an audience that may not want to be challenged. In short, to enjoy a Sondheim play, the audience must participate intellectually. The audience willing to expend the effort will not be cheated, Gordon insists, because Sondheim, throughout his career, has demonstrated that "musical theatre can be serious, poignant, and still exhilarating."
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction presents a striking new approach to how traditional art mediums—painting, sculpture, and drawing—changed in the twentieth century in response to photography, film, and other technologies. Countering the modernist view that the medium provides advanced art with “resistance” against technological pressures, Tamara Trodd argues that we should view art and its practices as imaginatively responding to the potential that artists glimpsed in mechanical reproduction, putting art into dialogue with the commercial cultures of its time.
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction weaves a rich history of the experimental networks in which artists as diverse as Paul Klee, Hans Bellmer, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Smithson, Gerhard Richter, Chris Marker, and Tacita Dean have worked, and it shows for the first time how extensively technological innovations of the moment have affected their work. Original and broad-ranging, The Art of Mechanical Reproduction challenges some of the most respected and entrenched criticism of the past several decades—and allows us to think about these artists anew.
This stunning book charts the rich history of the blues, through the dazzling array of posters, album covers, and advertisements that have shaped its identity over the past hundred years. The blues have been one of the most ubiquitous but diverse elements of American popular music at large, and the visual art associated with this unique sound has been just as varied and dynamic. There is no better guide to this fascinating graphical world than Bill Dahl—a longtime music journalist and historian who has written liner notes for countless reissues of classic blues, soul, R&B, and rock albums. With his deep knowledge and incisive commentary—complementing more than three hundred and fifty lavishly reproduced images—the history of the blues comes musically and visually to life.
What will astonish readers who thumb through these pages is the amazing range of ways that the blues have been represented—whether via album covers, posters, flyers, 78 rpm labels, advertising, or other promotional materials. We see the blues as it was first visually captured in the highly colorful sheet music covers of the early twentieth century. We see striking and hard-to-find label designs from labels big (Columbia) and small (Rhumboogie). We see William Alexander’s humorous artwork on postwar Miltone Records; the cherished ephemera of concert and movie posters; and Chess Records’ iconic early albums designed by Don Bronstein, which would set a new standard for modern album cover design.
What these images collectively portray is the evolution of a distinctively American art form. And they do so in the richest way imaginable. The result is a sumptuous book, a visual treasury as alive in spirit as the music it so vibrantly captures.