Earlier Books


 » ‘Earlier Books’

December 2010

Blacks in American Film, Television, and Video, by Elizabeth Amelia Hadley (Routledge). In essays, biographies, and film listings, a late associate professor of Africana studies at Simmons College explores the contributions of African Americans to all forms of film, including cartoons, motion pictures, documentaries, music videos, and commercials.

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley, by Jeffrey Spivak (University Press of Kentucky). Film critic Spivak, in the first full biography of Busby Berkeley (1895-1976), the renowned Depression-era creator of stage and movie musicals, describes and catalogs his over-the-top life and similarly baroque song-and-dance numbers which featured ornate geometric patterns and influenced much that came after. Spivak studied personal letters, interviews, studio memoranda, and Berkeley’s private memoirs to explore Berkeley’s colorful life.

Jeffrey Spivak describes his archival work on Busby Berkeley

One of the things that attracted me to writing the biography of Busby Berkeley was the fact that there were very few sources extant. I owned 1973’s coffee-table tome The Busby Berkeley Book (autographed, incidentally, by Berkeley) and the equally limited-release of Bob Pike’s and Dave Martin’s The Genius of Busby Berkeley, but if I was to do justice to the man, I needed much more than these titles, the Internet Movie Database, and Wikipedia. I spent countless hours at the Warner Bros. Archives at USC. I wore white cotton gloves as I leafed through the trove of archival stills. I copied interoffice memos from 1932-1934, and on index cards I wrote facts and figures dealing with director’s contracts and chorine’s working conditions. When I wasn’t at the Margaret Herrick library, I drove my local library crazy with hundreds of inter-library loans. It was also mandatory to view all my subject’s work. Filling in the gaps where no commercial release existed, I found private collectors and Ebay sellers and often overpaid greatly for titles I just had to see. The out-of-pocket expenses required to write the book were substantial (with no advance from which to draw), and there were photo-licensing fees that couldn’t be ignored. The bottom line to all of this is a handsome volume, well received, and the wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishment shared with every published author.

Dance and the Hollywood Latina: Race, Sex, and Stardom by Priscilla Pena Ovalle (Rutgers University Press). An assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of Oregon asks why every Latina star in Hollywood history, from Dolores Del Rio in the 1920s to Jennifer Lopez in the 2000s, began as a dancer or danced onscreen, and why for more than a century, Latina women have been represented, through dancing, as inherently passionate and promiscuous. Among her other subjects are Carmen Miranda, Rita Hayworth, and Rita Moreno. Ovalle discusses such concepts as “inbetween-ness” and “racial mobility” to examine how racialized sexuality and the dancing female body operate in film.

Priscilla Pena Ovalle discusses her archival work:

As you may be able to tell from my acknowledgments, I love and am indebted to cinema archives and the archivists that work there. I used various archives for the book, as I was especially interested in the ways that press books, production notes, publicity stills, censors, etc. dealt with or represented the dancing Latina body. I primarily worked with the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the University of Southern California’s Cinematic Arts Library and Archive, the USC Warner Bros Archive, the UCLA Film and Television Archive Collections, the Academy of Dance on Film, and the American Film Institute catalog (to name a few). I worked with everything from consumer DVDs to archived films and film transfers, as well as flash-based media from online sources. Because I work on very popular media, the range of accessibility often depended on the historical period of the film and/or it’s current popularity: some materials were readily available, while others were out of print and only viewable thanks to personal collections of online resellers. While I am sure many readers already know about the Margaret Herrick Library, I have to say that it is one of my most favorite places in the world. For film aficionados visiting Los Angeles, I recommend it as a “must-see” site.

The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films, by Jack Zipes (Routledge). A professor of German at the University of Minnesota, renowned as a translator and scholar of children’s literature and culture, argues that fairy tales were central to the birth of cinema, offering cheap, copyright-free material that could easily engage audiences though familiarity and special effects. He relates that Georges Méliès invented the medium, before Disney monopolized it. Zipes analyzed why the Disney approach came to dominate, and at what cost. He also looks at English and non-English films, animation, live-action, puppetry, woodcut, montage (Jim Henson), cartoon, and digital. With many film stills and extensive filmography and bibliography. (See MIAN’s feature article on Zipes’ work.)

The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts edited by Helen Hanson and Catherine O’Rawe (Palgrave Macmillan). Essays on the femme fatale in various eras of American, British, Italian, Mexican, and Spanish cinema, literature, and visual culture. The essays examine such mythical figures as Eve, Medusa, and the Sirens, as well as Mata Hari and other fatal women in contemporary cinema. Hanson is a lecturer in film at the University of Exeter, UK, who previously wrote Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film (2007). O’Rawe is a senior lecturer in Italian at the University of Bristol, UK, and author of Authorial Echoes: Textuality and Self-Plagiarism in the Narrative of Luigi Pirandello (2005).

The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record, edited by Chris Berry, Lu Xinyu, & Lisa Rofel (Hong Kong University Press). Documentary films are becoming the signature mode of contemporary Chinese visual culture, according to essayists in this volume. They examine how documentary filmmakers have opened up a new space of social commentary and critique in an era of rapid social changes amid globalization and marketization.
Topics range from cruelty in documentary to the representation of Beijing; gay, lesbian and queer documentary; sound in documentary; the exhibition context in China; authorial intervention and subjectivity; and the distinctive “on the spot” aesthetics of contemporary Chinese documentary.

Chris Berry and Lisa Rofel describe the challenges and rewards of searching out Chinese independent documentaries

Chris had been studying the making of films in China for a number of years and Lisa had been conducting anthropological research on the transition away from socialism in China. The two of them began to notice that documentary films in China were becoming a new site for social critique. Meanwhile, Lu Xinyu had put out a seminal text in Chinese on this movement, Documenting China: The New Documentary Movement in China (Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing Company). We all decided to team up to produce this book.

The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record originated in a grant that we (Lisa Rofel and Chris Berry) received from the University of California’s Pacific Rim Research Program from 2003 to 2004. It enabled us to travel to China, and meet and interview documentarians and the owners and managers of the venues in which independent documentaries are shown in Beijing.

The book focuses on independent documentaries. The first Chinese independent documentary appeared around 1990. By definition, in the Chinese context, an “independent” film or video is one that has not been submitted to the authorities for censorship. Without being passed by the authorities, independent documentaries cannot be commercially distributed and exhibited. Furthermore, in terms of government-run archives, it means they do not exist and are not collected. The independent quality of the documentaries is a major part of what makes them interesting. However, it also creates particular circumstances and particular difficulties.

The informal quality of independent film and video culture in China means that systematic information about the films is absent. There are no statistics on the numbers of independent documentaries produced in China, for example. Along with the independent films themselves, a number of independent screening events and venues have developed over the years. New documentaries get known by word of mouth – and blog – as a result of being shown at these sites. But going from hearing about the films to seeing them is not straightforward, because it is not possible to buy most of the documentaries as commercially distributed DVDs. On the other hand, the prevalence of informal distribution circuits in China helps to compensate for this, and in practice people who are interested in independent documentaries copy and swap DVDs actively to build up their collections. Our research would have been impossible without the generosity of numerous documentarians, who were kind enough to give us copies of their own works.

Scholars wishing to carry out research on independent documentaries in China must contend with the absence of any central state archive collection. However, awareness has been growing of the danger that some documentaries will disappear without trace unless someone collects them. Therefore, Wu Wenguang’s Caochangdi Station has been informally building a collection and making it available to scholars to view, and Lu Xinyu has also been informally building up a collection at Fudan University in Shanghai. In the United States, the library of the University of California at San Diego has a large collection of independent Chinese films and videos of all kinds. And dGenerate Films has been making key documentaries available commercially in the United States.

The Quay Brothers: Into a Metaphysical Playroom, by Suzanne Buchan (University of Minnesota Press). In the first full-length study of the Quay Brothers’ puppet animation, a professor of animation aesthetics and director of the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, United Kingdom, describes their idiosyncratic animation shorts, which rely on puppetry, miniatures, and stop-motion techniques. To reflect on the Quays’ work, and on the art of independent puppet animation, Buchan had access to their practices and work in animation, live-action film, stage design, and illustration, as well as her long acquaintance with them and with archival holdings of their work. She discusses their films’ literary origins, space, puppets, montage, and use of sound and music in animation. Includes much biographical detail, as well as detailed examination of their well-known film, Street of Crocodiles.

November 2010

The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945 to 1975, by Pamela Robertson Wojcik (Duke University Press). An associate professor of film, television, and theater and director of the gender studies program at the University of Notre Dame analyzes films like Pillow Talk, Rear Window, and The Seven Year Itch as well as television shows and other forms of art that featured apartments as central devices. She reveals affinities between movies generally viewed as belonging to such distinct genres as film noir, romantic comedy, and melodrama, and frames the apartment plot as part of a discourse that offered a vision of home centered on values of community, visibility, contact, mobility, impermanence, and porousness, as related by theorists Jane Jacobs and Henri Lefebvre, rather than private, stable, and family-based. She suggests that urban apartments were important spaces for negotiating gender, sexuality, race, and class in mid-twentieth-century America.

Beyond Dolby: Cinema in the Digital Sound Age, by Mark Kerins (Indiana University Press). An assistant professor of cinema and television at Southern Methodist University traces the impact of 20 years of digital surround sound on filmmaking – its history, theory, and production considerations – from the standpoints of cinema studies, cultural studies, and new-media scholarship. He chronicles the history and unexamined impact of surround sound’s spread from theaters to homes and from movies to television, music, and video games. Kerins draws on dozens of interviews with sound designers, mixers, and editors. In particular, he considers the films Fight Club, The Matrix, Hairspray, Disturbia, The Rock, Saving Private Ryan, and Joy Ride.

Mark Kerins talks to MIAN about his use of archives:

My research focuses on contemporary Hollywood cinema, so the local Blockbuster was a primary source of films as I was trying to go through a lot of movies. I purchased a monthly “all-you-can-rent” plan, where I would often go back and exchange movies multiple times per day. One of the unexpected benefits is that sometimes in the evening I would pick a movie just for fun (not research purposes) but then find while watching it that it actually had some interesting sound design.

One of the big challenges was that as I was tracking stuff down on DVD, many older movies have been remastered/remixed in 5.1-channel surround even though they were originally released in mono or Dolby Surround. Keeping track of which movies had their original soundtracks, which had remixed for home (in the same surround format as the original release), and which had completely redone soundtracks was tricky.

Distributing Silent Film Serials: Local Practices, Changing Forms, Cultural Transformation, by Rudmer Canjels (Routledge). A lecturer in comparative arts and media studies at VU University Amsterdam traces the international consumption, distribution, and cultural importance of silent film serials in the 1910s and 1920s. Beyond the well-known American two-reel serial—the cliffhanger – he focuses on the other large producers of serials, France and Germany, as well as smaller ones such as those in the Netherlands. He shows that in the early 20th century, imported serial productions were often altered to suit local conditions emerging from World War I. (In the series, Routledge Advances in Film Studies.)

The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens, 1946–1973, by Tino Balio (University of Wisconsin Press). A professor emeritus of film at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and former director of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research analyzes the emergence of an art-film market in the United States after World War II, when foreign films such as Open City, Bicycle Thief, Rashomon, The Seventh Seal, Breathless, La Dolce Vita, and L’Avventura and such directors as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Tony Richardson, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Satyajit Ray, and Milos Forman created a small but influential art-film market nurtured by waves of imports from Italy, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Japan, and the Soviet Bloc. As Balio relates, while independent New York distributors sparked those changes, by the 1960s, Hollywood had subsumed it. Balio writes that the cinephile trend faded when Hollywood abolished the Production Code in the late 1960s, allowing American-made films to treat adult themes more openly. Balio’s previous books include United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950 and United Artists, Volume 2, 1951–1978 as well as Grand Design: Hollywood as Modern Business Enterprise, 1930–1939.

Hitchcock’s British Films (2nd Edition), by Maurice Yacowar (Wayne State University Press). A new edition of a long-out-of-print 1977 book that was the first devoted to the 23 films that Hitchcock directed in England before coming to the United States. Yacowar challenged the assumption that Hitchcock’s “mature” Hollywood period from the late 1940s to the early 1960s represented his best work. Yacowar read the composition of individual shots and scenes in each of the films, paying attention to the films’ verbal effects. The book contains some of the only extended interpretations of the films, which included Downhill, Champagne, The Pleasure Garden, The Ring, The Manxman, and Waltzes from Vienna. It also offered detailed analyses of themes, staging, and other technical aspect of Hitchcock stand-out films like Murder!, the first The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Secret Agent, The Lady Vanishes, and Blackmail.

Left of Hollywood: Cinema, Modernism, and the Emergence of U.S. Radical Film Culture, by Chris Robé (University of Texas Press). An assistant professor of film and media studies at Florida Atlantic University studies a “missing chapter” in American film history, the social and political films of the 1930s, made during a time of a mass turn to the Left in the United States, at a time when capitalism faltered and the political Left thrived even the capitalist haven of Hollywood. Robé surveys Depression-era Left film theory and criticism of the 1930s, and the allies of artists and intellectuals allied to form an engaged but popular political film movement for social change. His subjects include how the films forged an alliance of black and white film critics who were outspoken about racism, but who nonetheless remained prejudiced against women so that female-centered films were snubbed.

Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks, and Consumer Culture by Hilary Radner (Routledge). A professor of film and media studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand, examines how Hollywood has responded to women’s changing social roles through an analysis of the flourishing “Girly Film” sub-genre – films associated with the “Chick Flick” that exploit the conventions of the romance to produce hybrids that portray the postfeminism or neo-feminism of women for whom work was a necessity rather than right or privilege. Radner explores popular films like He’s Just Not That Into You, The Devil Wears Prada, Bride Wars, and Sex and the City.

Right Here on Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan’s America, by Gerald Nachman (University of California Press). The humorist and critic of theater, television, movies, cabaret, and lively arts, whose previous books include Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 60s and Raised on Radio writes the influence on America television and culture of Ed Sullivan, the Broadway gossip columnist turned awkward emcee who took a worn-out stage genre-vaudeville-and transformed it into the TV variety-show format that would dominate for decades. Nachman interviewed 60 stars for his book, and describes the diverse, multi-cultural, and influential variety hour, from the earliest dog acts and jugglers, to Elvis Presley and the Beatles, to his regularly welcoming black performers such as Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, James Brown, and Richard Pryor.

Gerald Nachman on his archival research:

I watched countless shows at the Museum of TV and Radio in NY and LA (now called the Paley Center for Media), plus about 15 DVDs sent to me from SOFA Entertainment, which owns all the Sullivan shows, excerpts of rock performers, opera singers, novelty acts, and random excerpts from the show. There were 2 TV tributes to the Sullivan show hosted by Carol Burnett and Bert Reynolds that are also available from SOFA. I also accessed an, alas, now defunct Web site called bluegobo.com that had great scenes from old musicals featured on the show; a big loss to musical aficionados. But YouTube has a lot of moments from the show available, I’m sure. By far the best source of old Sullivan shows is the Paley Center, which has scores, maybe hundreds, of old Sullivan shows. Those were my main sources. My Web page, geraldnachman.com, has a long list of Internet archives devoted to specific performers.

Shadows of Doubt: Negotiations of Masculinity in American Genre Films, by Barry Keith Grant (Wayne State University Press). A professor of communication, popular culture, and film at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, considers representations of masculine identity and sexuality in American popular film. (Grant edits the press’s series, Contemporary Approaches to Film and Television.)

The Silvering Screen: Old Age and Disability in Cinema (University of Toronto Press), by Sally Chivers. A professor of Canadian Studies at Trent University describes a boom in films in which old age plays a central rather than supporting role – films like Away From Her, The Straight Story, The Barbarian Invasions, and About Schmidt. She draws on disability studies, critical gerontology, and cultural studies to examine how the film industry has linked old age with physical and mental disability. She suggests that Hollywood appeals to popular imagination in contradictory ways – singing the praises of actors who portray the debilitation of aging but also promoting a culture of youth.

Tennessee Williams and Company: His Essential Screen Actors, by John DiLeo (Hansen Publishing Group).  The author of And You Thought You Knew Classic Movies (St. Martin’s, 1999), which Pauline Kael hailed as “the smartest movie quiz book I’ve ever seen,” 100  Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t (Limelight Editions, 2002), and Screen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting Rediscovery (Hansen Publishing Group), turns to a study of 11 actors, including Marlon Brando, Madeleine Sherwood, and Anna Magnani (see cover photo, left, where she appears on the set of The Fugitive Kind in 1959) who starred in more than one of the Williams movies, forming an unofficial stock company. DiLeo has been a contributing book reviewer for Washington Post Book World and now writes DVD and film-book reviews in monthly columns for Milford Magazine, Allegany Magazine, and Central Voice (Harrisburg, Pa.). He also frequently hosts classic-film series, appears on radio programs, conducts film-history seminars, and interviews figures like Farley Granger, Arlene Dahl, and Marge Champion on the festival stage at the Black Bear Film Festival in the Pokonos.

John DiLeo describes his archival work on Tennessee Williams’ company

Though the Williams films were not difficult to find, there were so many other movies that required re-watching because I was tackling my 11 subjects’ entire acting careers. So, that meant Ebay and YouTube and renting old VHS copies from libraries. Out-of-print books (for research) were often inexpensive on used-books sites, but libraries rescued me by tracking down books that would have been exorbitantly expensive to purchase. When it came time to choose stills, I went to Photofest in NYC. (They provided the stills for three of my four books.) This can be done online, but it’s so much more enjoyable and satisfying to go through stacks of stills, hunting for treasures. Film books often use the same tired old stills, and so my quest is always to try to find stills that haven’t been overused, ones that provide a freshness and spark the imagination (like the wonderful shot I found for the cover).

Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution (Ohio University Press) edited by Mahir Şaul and Ralph A. Austen. A professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a professor emeritus of African history at the University of Chicago show that African cinema in the 1960s originated mainly from Francophone countries, resembled the art cinema of contemporary Europe, and relied on support from the French film industry and the French state. Beginning in 1969, the biennial Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO), held in Burkina Faso, became the major showcase for these films. But since the early 1990s, a new phenomenon has come to dominate the African cinema world: mass-marketed films shot on less-expensive video cameras. These “Nollywood” films, so named because many originate in southern Nigeria, are a thriving industry dominating the world of African cinema.

One of the essayists in Viewing African Cinema, Jonathan Haynes, a professor of English at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University, on archiving “Nollywood”

We urgently need good archives and study collections. It would be perfectly possible to set up a system for acquiring canonical older films and a selection of the yearly blizzard of new titles, and someone should get busy doing it.

“Nollywood” has grown into one of the world’s biggest film industries, but, like other African popular arts, it emerged outside of the formal sector of the Nigerian economy and it still exists in a tangential (at best) relationship with the institutions of international cinema. Both in Africa and abroad, the films get distributed through their own networks, in which piracy is a major factor. I know of eight shops selling them within three blocks of my office in Brooklyn, there are numerous websites (such as africamovies.com) selling and streaming them in the US, Canada, and Europe, and more Nollywood films have been posted to YouTube (in ten-minute segments) than you could watch in a lifetime. But my university’s library does not own any Nollywood films and would not know how to acquire them. As I complain in my essay in this volume, we urgently need good archives and study collections. Some films acquire the status of classics, but they can be very hard to find – the industry is set up to churn films out at great speed and in enormous quantities, so after a few weeks in the market they tend to disappear. It would be perfectly possible to set up a system for acquiring canonical older films and a selection of the yearly blizzard of new titles, and someone should get busy doing it.

Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema, by Jane Chi Hyun Park (University of Minnesota Press). A lecturer of gender and cultural studies at the University of Sydney, Australia, examines the emergence, popularity, and significance of oriental style in Hollywood cinema since the 1980s. Park focuses on the ways East Asian peoples and places have become linked with technology to produce a collective fantasy of East Asia as the future. Park constructs a genealogy of oriental style through readings of popular films like Blade Runner, The Karate Kid with its Japanese-American mentor, Rush Hour with its Afro-Asian reworking of the buddy genre, and The Matrix with its mixed-race hero. Park suggests that the films demonstrate that American popular attitudes toward East Asia in the past 30 years have shifted from abjection to celebration.

October 2010

The Collapse of the Conventional: German Film and Its Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, edited by Jaimey Fisher and Brad Prager (Wayne State University Press). Fourteen authors investigate German film since the turn of the twenty-first century. They argue that filmmakers are using new cinema techniques to return to politically charged themes similar to those that were important in the German film Renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s: German identity after World War II, life in East Germany and the consequences of reunification, and post-cold war economic globalization.

Dream Factories of a Former Colony: American Fantasies, Philippine Cinema, by José B. Capino. An assistant professor of English and media and cinema studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, asks how the Philippine cinema, as the “dream factory” of the former U.S. colony, represents the American colonizer. He studies such conventions of the country’s cinema as GIs seeking Filipina brides, cold war spies hunting down native warlords, American-born Filipinos wandering in the parental homeland, and the triumphs and tragedies of Filipino nurses, GI babies, and migrant workers. He examines how more than 20 of the nation’s movies bolster and subvert colonial thinking, and how it generates pragmatic and utopian visions of living with empire.

José Capino describes his archival searching:

I accessed several VHS tapes from various collections in the US through the interlibrary loan program of the University of Illinois. The lending institutions include major research universities (e.g., the University of Wisconsin-Madison) and small libraries (e.g., Ketchikan Public Library in Alaska). I consulted books, clippings and archival material here in the US at the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art. In the Philippines, I relied heavily on the holdings of the Rizal Library at my alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila University, and at the Mowelfund Film Institute. Finding still photographs was a big challenge. I consulted with several picture agencies (e.g., the Kobal Collection and Photofest, both extremely helpful) and bought publicity stills on Ebay. I found an incredible treasure trove of film stills at the Lopez Memorial Library and Museum and the Lino Brocka Collection at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I also begged—a lot. Through the help of research consultants in the Philippines, I was able to borrow stills from a film studio, several filmmakers, and movie memorabilia collectors. I made screen grabs using VLC Media Player and Power DVD. Thanks to superb production work by the University of Minnesota Press, the screen grabs look even better on print than on my computer.

Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence edited by Michael Kackman and others (Routledge). Considering television and new media not just as technical devices but also as social technologies, the essays in this volume advocate paying attention to the social, political, and cultural practices that influence those devices’ uses. Contributors examine television through a range of critical approaches from formal and industrial analysis to critical technology studies, reception studies, political economy, and critiques of television’s transnational flows. The volume stems from the popular online journal Flow: A Critical Form on Television and Media Culture (flowtv.org).

Hollywood Incoherent: Narration in Seventies Cinema, by Todd Berliner (University of Texas Press). The professor of film studies at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, presents his revisionist study of ways in which European- and Asian-cinema-inspired American movies of the 1970s, both formally innovative and mainstream, excelled through the use of novel methods of narrative and style.

In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon (Harvard University Press). An associate professor of English at York University, in Toronto, employs Buddhism and critical theory to rethink what it means to copy. Drawing on contemporary art, music, and film, the history of aesthetics, critical theory, and Buddhist philosophy and practice, he frames copying as essentially human in ways that call into question current copyright wars. While intellectual-property law seeks to distinguish between good copies and bad, Boon asked the unasked question at its core: What is a copy? He looks for answers in popular culture, technological history, and philosophy Eastern and Western, and concludes that the ability to copy is worthy of celebration and key to understanding ourselves or the world. As a philosophical concept, copying remains poorly understood, he suggests as he works comparatively across cultures and times to illuminate it.

Lady Chatterley’s Legacy in the Movies: Sex, Brains, and Body Guys, by Peter Lehman and Susan Hunt
 (Rutgers University Press). Lehman, the director of the Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture at Arizona State University, and Hunt, who teaches film studies at Santa Monica and Pasadena City Colleges, discuss the emergence during the last 20 years of the “body guy” genre. In films like Titanic, Two Moon Junction, A Night in Heaven, Sirens, Henry & June, 9 Songs, and Lady Chatterley, an athletic working-class man of the earth or bohemian artist improbably awakens and fulfills the sexuality of a beautiful, intelligent woman who is generally married or engaged to a sexually incompetent, educated, upper-class man. Lehman and Hunt relate the genre to a literary tradition dating back to D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and to a body culture of recent times. They argue that the films extol norms of masculinity and male sexuality while denigrating the erotic vitality of the mind. They urge a radical reassessment of the films’ depiction of male and female sexual power and pleasure. Peter Lehman’s many books include Running Scared:  Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body and Roy Orbison: The Invention of an Alternative Rock Masculinity. He also edited Pornography:  Film and Culture.
Susan Hunt has coauthored many journal and anthology articles on film and sexuality.

Mae West: An Interview and Biography, by Clive Hirschhorn (Grand Cyrus Press). In 1968, Clive Hirschhorn was a young reporter for the British Sunday Express, in Hollywood on assignment. Hearing that Mae West “loved British accents,” he was able to get an interview with the 75-year-old film star. His observations on the “official” Mae and the actual woman behind the public persona provide new insights into this complex, much caricatured, and compelling cultural icon. His subsequent research explores how changing public taste, the Depression, and the coming and going of the Code dictated the content of West’s self-crafted dialogue and plots in films made between 1932 and 1978. Clive Hirschhorn is the author of The Hollywood Musical, The Warner Bros. Story, The Universal Story, The Columbia Story, Gene Kelly: A Biography, and The Films of James Mason.

Milwaukee Movie Theaters, by Larry Widen (Arcadia Publishing). The historian and author of Images of America: Entertainment in Early Milwaukee, who operates the historic Times and Rosebud cinemas near downtown Milwaukee, relates the history of move theaters in the city. Before World War II, 90 single-screen movie theaters operated in Milwaukee; by 1960, only half that many, thanks to the advent of television. Widen visits cinemas such as the former Tivoli, Paris, Roosevelt, and Savoy in their current states, as churches, warehouses, stores, nightspots, and other businesses, while he finds that others, including the Elite, Regent, Lincoln, and Warner, are vacant hulks. (See also “A Website for the Theater Fanatic in Us All”).

The New Entrepreneurs : An Institutional History of Television Anthology Writers, by 
Jon Kraszewski

 (Wesleyan University Press). An assistant professor of communication at Seton Hall University relates the ways that television writers like Rod Sterling, Reginald Rose, and Paddy Chayefsky thwarted and sometimes accommodated to the constraints of corporate culture in the 1950s. When networks responded by cancelling series, the most resilient writers launched shows like The Twilight Zone and The Defenders that remain popular today. Kraszewski casts such writers as “New Entrepreneurs,” and analyzes their legendary, little-studied, and sometimes hard-to-find script in order to determine how they fought for their creative visions. Among their approaches, he writes, was to move among television, theater, and art cinema in New York’s thriving art culture. In the series Wesleyan Film.

On Message: Television Advertising by the Presidential Candidates in Election 2008 by E.D. Dover (Lexington Books). A professor of political science, public policy, and administration at Western Oregon University compares how 12 leading candidates created narratives in advertising during a campaign where record sums were spent. Dover studies ads from the early caucuses to the national level.

Police Aesthetics: Literature, Film, and the Secret Police in Soviet Times, by Cristina Vatulescu (Stanford University Press). In a study of how culture and politics related in twentieth-century police states, an assistant professor of comparative literature at New York University uses startling records from the secret police archives of the former Soviet bloc that have caused many scandals and compromised revered cultural and political figures, to reveal what they tell about movies that the police sponsored, scripted, or authored. She shows how Soviet files and films influenced the writing of literature, from autobiographies to novels, from high-culture classics to avant-garde experiments and popular blockbusters.

Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000, edited by Steve Anker, Kathy Geritz, & Steve Seid (University of California Press & Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive). Historical, cultural, and aesthetic essays, interviews, reminiscences from filmmakers, curators, and archivists; photographs; and artist-designed pages chronicle the history of experimental cinema in the San Francisco area to suggest how it has come to influence vanguard film, video, and new media, worldwide. The contributors explore artistic movements, film and video exhibition and distribution, artists’ groups, and Bay Area film schools. The book also includes sections of ephemera: posters, correspondence, photographs, newsletters, and program notes. Among the contributions: Rebecca Solnit and Ernie Gehr on Bay Area cinema’s roots in the work of Eadweard Muybridge and others; Scott MacDonald on Art in Cinema; P. Adams Sitney on films by James Broughton and Sidney Peterson; Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, Lawrence Jordan, and Yvonne Rainer on the Bay Area film scene in the 1950s; J. Hobeman on films by Christopher Maclaine, Bruce Conner, and Robert Nelson; Craig Baldwin on found footage film; George Kuchar on student-produced melodramas; Michael Wallin on queer film in the 1970s; V. Vale on punk cinema; Dale Hoyt and Cecilia Dougherty on video in the 1980s and 1990s; and Maggie Morse on new media as sculpture.

Maggie Morse, author of “Pixels and Chips,” an essay about new media as sculpture, on how she found material for her project

I used largely primary sources. The artists themselves provided tapes and documentation and I interviewed all three by phone. I also accessed websites, particularly Jim Campbell’s, and checked the publications list or pdfs online I could download from his site. I relied largely on my own analyses of the artists’ works based on carefully viewing each video art piece or the documentation of an art piece. I also visited a new Jim Campbell installation; I see installation art whenever it is available to view, since the situation of moving images in space and time and the relation of images to other objects and my path through the imagery is a part of the statement of the piece. The corporeal experience of a piece provides information that may not survive the documentation process. I have written extensively on specific examples of videoart and wrote a key essay on video installation art that was published in 1990, so I am in a familiar discourse and one that has expertise available whenever I need to consult someone. In other words, the work I addressed is still very near in time and the artists themselves are still accessible. Their pieces are often in their own personal archives or in collections like the EAI or the Video Data Bank. Of course, this situation of primary access is a horizon that is rapidly receding. I think whole new problems of access, research and interpretation of the work arise when the work becomes historical.

Screening Cuba: Film Criticism as Political Performance during the Cold War, by Hector Amaya (University of Illinois Press). An assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, while comparing U.S. and Cuban reactions to Cuban revolutionary films during the Cold War, reveal how contrasting interpretations reflect the political cultures in which they were produced.  He uses film reviews, magazine articles, and other primary documents relating to four Cuban films: Memories of Underdevelopment, Lucia, One Way or Another, and Portrait of Teresa. He shows that Cuban critics viewed the films as powerful symbols of the social promises of the Cuban revolution, while liberal and leftist American critics found meaning in the films as representations of anti-establishment progressive values and Cold War discourses. Amaya argues that critical receptions of political films constitute a kind of civic public behavior.

September 2010

Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy, by Saul Austerlitz (Chicago Review Press). A journalist who has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Slate, and Boston Globe, and who is the author of Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes (Continuum, 2006), discusses the impact of comedy on American film, despite inadequate notice from the American film press and even from film buffs and the Academy Awards. Austerlitz retells the story of American film from the perspective of what he claims has been its “unwanted stepbrother,” the comedy. His book includes 30 long chapters and 100 shorter entries, each devoted primarily to one performer or director.

Saul Austerlitz on finding funnies:

The nice thing about researching a mainstream film genre like comedy is that the overwhelming majority of the films I needed to see for my book were readily available from Netflix. I didn’t really have to do any digging in the archival crates for what I needed. That said, there were some essential movies that proved more challenging to find. It’s always unpredictable what will require sleuthwork to locate, and I never would have guessed that Elaine May’s New Hollywood classic The Heartbreak Kid would be unavailable on DVD. (How could it be that Ben Stiller’s remake is out on DVD, and not the significantly superior original?) I ended up watching it in very low resolution on Google Video — not even YouTube, but Google’s homegrown earlier version. (It was still funny.) Some of Jerry Lewis’ films proved challenging to locate as well, especially his hard-to-find later films Hardly Working and Cracking Up. Lewis not being the star he once was, the only place I could find these surprisingly well-hewn works was on a YouTube channel devoted to the glories of postwar American comedy. In an odd way, it helped me to see the films as compilations of disparate gags to have to manually advance from one ten-minute segment of the film to the next.

Other films were readily available from the New York Public Library — in VHS editions. Luckily, I have still not foregone the simple pleasures of my VCR, and was able to take advantage of the NYPL’s VHS collection of movies like Preston Sturges and Harold Lloyd’s The Sin of Harold Diddlebock and the Doris Day-Clark Gable romantic comedy Teacher’s Pet. The NYPL (and the Brooklyn Public Library) also made it relatively easy to track down out-of-print books like Walter Kerr’s The Silent Clowns, which proved to be essential to my understanding of the silent era.

Arab Filmmakers of the Middle East: A Dictionary, by Roy Armes (Indiana University Press). A comprehensive reference guide to film production in the Arab Middle East. Armes, a professor emeritus of film at Middlesex University who has published widely on world cinema and is the author of Dictionary of African Filmmakers (IUP, 2008), counters the notion that Arab cinema is absent from the Middle East. He details the scope and diversity of filmmaking across the Arab Middle East by listing more than 550 feature films by more than 250 filmmakers, and short and documentary films by another 900 filmmakers from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and the Gulf States, from the silent era to modern times, where states have funded productions by isolated filmmakers and politically engaged documentarians.

The Cinema of India, edited by Lalitha Gopalan (
Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press
). An associate professor of radio, television, and film at the University of Texas at Austin whose previous books were Cinema of Interruptions: Action Genres in Contemporary Indian Cinema (2002) and Bombay (2005) examines 24 landmark Indian films. She gathers writings by renowned scholars of Indian cinema that help explain the variety of India’s national and regional film industries and its reception at home and abroad; the role of studios; the place of “middle” cinema and its relationship to state subsidies; the style of popular films and art films; the allure of stardom; the resurgence of auteurism; and the poetics of documentary.

A Critical History of German Film, by Stephen Brockmann (Boydell & Brewer). The professor of German at Carnegie Mellon University, who won the German Academic Exchange Service’s 2007 Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in German and European Studies, discusses films from the beginnings of German film to the present, arguing that existing histories tend to ignore recent works. He also contends that they tend to treat cinema as an economic rather than an aesthetic phenomenon. In the series, Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture.

Stephen Brockmann describes some challenges in research on German film:

I was able to rely on a number of archives and resources in preparing images for my book. The Potsdam Film Museum was particularly helpful to me in providing access to good images for Weimar-era and pre-Weimar era cinema. I relied on DEFA Spektrum, the DEFA archive, for access to most images from East German films; but I was also able to count on the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for help in this regard. For a number of films from various eras I got help from the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin; and for some more recent German films that have received distribution in the United States (relatively few, unfortunately) I was able to go to the Picture Desk/Kobal Collection – although their prices are not cheap. For some films I simply was unable to locate good images and had to lift images from DVDs. The quality of these images is of course problematic, but for a number of films this is what I had to do.

The distribution of German-language films in the United States (indeed, of films in any language other than English) remains highly problematic, and some key films are currently unavailable in a North American DVD format with English-language subtitles. Key examples are the Nazi blockbuster Die grosse Liebe (The Great Love, 1942, which is the most popular German film of all time), the collectively created film Deutschland im Herbst (Germany in Autumn, 1978, about terrorism in the late 1970s), or Margarethe von Trotta’s feminist classic Marianne and Juliane (1981).

But even such important films of the 1990s as Der bewegte Mann (Maybe, Maybe Not, 1994) and Rossini (1997) are not currently available in the United States.  This is a real problem for anyone seriously interested in teaching or researching the history of German film in North America. Additionally, there’s a strange situation right now in that it’s actually easier to get hold of East German films in the U.S. than it is to get hold of West German films. This is because East German films are distributed by the excellent, hard-working DEFA Film Library, but there is no such organization currently at work to make available West German films. So most West German films of the 1950s and even through most of the 1960s are simply unavailable in a North American format with English-language subtitles. It would be wonderful if some major cultural organization, such as the Goethe Institute, could help to solve this problem.

Supposedly the world is coming closer together every day with globalization, but the various regional DVD formats, not to mention distribution and translation failures, continue to make it difficult to access foreign-language films in the United States.

Film Authorship: Auteurs and Other Myths, by C. Paul Sellors (Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press). A lecturer in photography and film at Napier University, Edinburgh, evaluates the heated debates of critics, historians, and theoreticians over the nature of film authorship and the auteur, and whether it really exists, at all. He analyzes the concept’s history and theoretical underpinnings, examines recent theories of film authorship, and proposes basing notions of authorship in empirical analyses of film production.

Hollywood Gamers: Digital Convergence in the Film and Video Game Industries, by Robert Alan Brookey (Indiana University Press). Video game spin-offs have become an important part of blockbuster-movie licensing practices, and the rule rather than the exception. Brookey, an associate professor of communication studies at Northern Illinois University and author of Reinventing the Male Homosexual (IUP, 2002), explores the business conditions and technological developments that have facilitated the convergence of the film and video game industries, paying particular attention to how those developments are seen in such video games as Lord of the Rings, The Godfather, Spider-Man, and Iron Man.

Robert Brookey describes working on his book:

Given the purpose of the book, my primary texts were the video games spun off of the various films. In order to perform my analyses, however, I had to be familiar with these films. My department maintains a film library, and I could borrow from it at no charge. I could also keep the films as long as I needed. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Godfather trilogy, this library did not have the films I needed. Therefore, I had to rely on other sources. Sometimes I rented DVDs from traditional brick-and-mortar stores, but whenever I could, I tried to use online resources. I used the OnDemand service from my cable company, but I also accessed some films through the iTunes store. There are some complaints and concerns about the digitalization of film, but undoubtedly the practice has increased access and made retrieval so much more convenient.

The biggest challenge for this book was rendering the video games into texts. It is almost impossible to play a video game and take notes on it at the same time. It is possible, but it is a possibility riddled with “Game Over” screens and loud cursing. Fortunately, our undergraduate program requires practicum credit that allows students to assist professors with their research. Therefore, I had students play the games while I took notes; as you might imagine, I was quite a popular professor where practicum credit was concerned.

My biggest surprise came when I was working on the chapter devoted to Disney’s Kingdom Hearts video games.  These games reference several Disney films that I had not seen before, for example Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Hercules. I have to admit I was not excited by the prospect of watching all of these animated “family films.” But I also have to admit that I found them entertaining. In the chapter on Disney, I discuss Michael Eisner’s checkered tenure at Disney, but I have to give him his due: He oversaw the production of some fine films. On the other hand, however, he also ushered in the era of CGI animation, and the subsequent decline of cell animation.

Hollywood Goes Oriental: CaucAsian Performance in American Film, by Karla Rae Fuller (Wayne State University Press). A study of the portrayal of Asian characters by non-Asian actors in Hollywood studio-system output – blockbusters, B films, animated images – from the 1930s to the 1960s. Fuller analyzes the archetypes that underlay such portrayals, including cosmetic devices, physical gestures, dramatic cues, and narrative conventions such as the Oriental detective, political enemy, and cultural outsider, drawing a distinction between the “good” Chinese and the “sinister” Japanese character. She also traces a shift back to a seemingly more benign, erotic, and often comedic depiction of Oriental characters after the war, and suggests the origins, connotations, and repercussions of varied depictions. (The book appears in the series, Contemporary Approaches to Film and Television.)

Karla Rae Fuller on archives:

I had my own collection of DVDs for the work and I used primarily two archives,The Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Wisconsin Film Archive at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

August 2010

The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and “Film Noir” by Marlisa Santos (Lexington Books). Santos, an associate professor and director of the division of humanities at Nova Southeastern University, argues that films noirs of the 1940s and 1950s might not have come into being without the rapidly popularization of psychoanalysis in the United States. She notes, as J. P. Telotte, author of Voices in the Dark: The Narrative Patterns of Film Noir, puts it in a blurb, that the the form was often used psychiatrists, psychoanalysis, asylums, and insanity in keeping with the way “the noir world’s often mannered depictions of the real, the everyday, and the conscious mind so consistently—and disconcertingly—slip into the imagery of dreams, the abnormal, and the unconscious.” Santos explains, for example, the role that psychoanalytic treatment of World War II soldiers had on writers and filmmakers of noir films, which often registered the fearful but thrilling nature of psychoanalysis: the ability of a “science of the mind” to eliminate the mysteries of the human psyche and to expose the fundamental unknowability of the human psyche.

July 2010

Cinema in a Democratic South Africa: The Race for Representation, by Lucia Saks (Indiana University Press). Saks, a visiting professor at the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Capetown who until recently taught at the University of Michigan, and who from 1997 to 2002 was at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, analyzes the cultural changes that have stemmed from the end of apartheid in 1994, as viewed through South African cinema. She argues that as new views of race emerged, filmmakers took part in the country’s distancing itself from the violence and racism of apartheid. She detects new representation of South Africa in a modern-day South African “counter-cinema.” (The book appears in the series, New Directions in National Cinemas.)

Early Warner Bros. Studios, by E.J. Stephens & Marc Wanamaker (Arcadia Publishing). Stephens, a former WB Studios worker, newspaper columnist, and film-series host, and Wanamaker, a film historian, consultant, and founder of the Hollywood Heritage Museum who established the substantial Southern California entertainment repository, Bison Archives, in 1973, relate the history of Warner Bros. Studios which since 1928 has produced thousands of films and television shows at the studio’s 110-acre film factory in Burbank. The book, which consists largely of images, concentrates on years from the 1920s to the 1950s, when such titles as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and East of Eden were made and the Warner brothers – Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack – guided the company.

Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Cinema, and the Enigmatic Signifier, by Homay King (Duke University Press). An associate professor of art history at Bryn Mawr College explores the ways Western cinema has long presented East Asia as radically indecipherable. She argues that the fantasies that underlie that depiction do not only suggest Hollywood’s attitude to the East, but also an ethos that has essentially shaped the US film industry. Referring to films from other traditions, such as Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung Kuo: Cina, Wim Wenders’ Notebook on Cities and Clothes, and Sophie Calle’s Exquisite Pain, King suggests alternatives to this blinkered fixation.

Where Homay King found material for her research:

I did perform some archival research for this project, mainly for Chapter Two, “The Shanghai Gesture.” I researched Josef von Sternberg’s film of the same title at the Margaret Herrick Library special collections at AMPAS in LA (in particular the MPAA Production Code Administration files, but also other papers in that library). The section of the book on The Shanghai Gesture addresses the film’s struggles with the PCA. I also looked at their materials on Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai and a few other films.

In the book I write about two films that are distributed by Women Makes Movies, Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia and Leslie Thornton’s Adynata, so that was also an important source for this project. I drew on my own collection, libraries, and rental services. Finally, I write about a few contemporary works of art in the book, so I relied on information the Paula Cooper and Marian Goodman galleries in New York to some extent.

Mainstream Culture Refocused: Television Drama, Society, and the Production of Meaning in Reform-Era China by Zhong Xueping (University of Hawaii Press). An associate professor of Chinese literature and culture at Tufts University discusses the way TV dramas reflect the tensions and contradictions of the social and political transformations taking place in China. Zhong also reflects on the ties between moving-image forms such as the popular, complex television serials (dianshiju and such subgenres as “emperor dramas,” “anticorruption dramas,” and “youth dramas”) and Chinese literature, and are important objects of study alongside elite cultural trends and avant-garde movements in literature and film.

Mediated Cosmopolitanism: The World of Television News, by Alexa Robertson (Polity). A senior lecturer in political science at Stockholm University considers “how viewers can ‘recognise and identify with the distant Others who populate their television screens’” (James Painter, University of Oxford), based on her analysis of 2,000 news reports broadcast on national and global channels and interviews with journalists and audience members. She shows that the same everyday news stories can take on different meanings in different cultures, and argues that national broadcasters could be more active agents of cosmopolitanism than global channels.

The Philosophy of the Western, edited by Jennifer L. McMahon and B. Steve Csaki (University Press of Kentucky). In essays edited by McMahon, an associate professor of English at East Central University, and Csaki, a former visiting professor in philosophy, the humanities, and Japanese at Centre College, Oklahoma, authors examine the rise and recent resurgence of the iconic genre of American cinema – its popularity, its claims on encapsulating American values, and its historical inaccuracies. Themes of the articles, written to be accessible to nonspecialists, include the influence of the western on the American psyche.

Reflections: Images of Women in Hindi films, by Usha Kalyanaraman (National Film Archive of India)

Screening War: Perspectives on German Suffering, edited by Paul Cooke & Marc Silberman (Camden House). Cooke, a professor of German Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, and Silberman, a professor of German at the University of Wisconsin, collect essays about the impact on German visual culture of the recent “discovery” of German wartime suffering, noting that in fact such films have a long tradition in German cinema, and have served to illustrate evolving views of Germans have dealt with wartime trauma.

Marc Silberman reflects on the preparation of Screening War:

Screening War was the product of a 2.5-year research project co-directed by Paul Cooke (University of Leeds, UK) and me (Marc Silberman, University of Wisconsin, Madison). It consisted of two conferences (during which the contributors brainstormed their essays and presented draft versions) and an intranet website where we conferred with each other. For the publication of the volume with Camden House, we negotiated the contract to include about 50 half-page, b/w images from the outset, which the publisher found to be quite a few, but did accept. We made clear to the contributors that they would be responsible for obtaining copyright clearances and paying for permissions, recommending strongly that video grabs were the best solution, since they fall under fair-use regulations. Indeed, the authors provided all of the images as DVD captures. We did need to request from several of them to re-“capture” images for better resolution, and the publisher worked hard to produce the best image effects when desaturating and converting the color images to b/w. I know from our production editor that this was quite an undertaking for the design team, but Camden House and we are all pleased with the end product.

I cannot identify for certain what sources the contributors used for the image grabs: Some are certainly from commercially released DVD versions (in Germany), perhaps from their private collections or their university media centers; others may be from films taped off German television. There are, in fact, excellent archives in Germany for relevant stills and frame enlargements as well as star photos and film posters, but all of them charge capture fees, copyright fees, and printing permission fees, so that we editors recommended against them. Among the archives are the Bundesfilmarchiv (Federal Film Archive) in Berlin, the photo archive of the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin, and the Deutsches Filminstitut in Frankfurt/Main.

Scripted Affects, Branded Selves: Television, Subjectivity, and Capitalism in 1990s Japan by Gabriella Lukács (Duke University Press). An assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh analyzes the emergence in Japan in the 1990s of the “trendy drama” form of primetime TV serial, which showcased the consumerist lifestyles of Tokyo sophisticates as they also managed complex Sex and the City-style love lives. Through ethnographic studies of the producers and consumers of specific dramas, Lukács shows the pervasive influence of international forces of consumption. She portrays the trendy-drama programming as a savvy strategy to appeal to viewers who increasingly demand entertainment that feels more personal and less mass-produced, but shows that the programs’ producers were intent on manipulating audience identification to manipulate demand more efficiently than they could do by appealing to such conventional marketing criteria as generation, ethnicity, and gender.

Stylistics of Hieroglyphic Time, by James Tobias (Temple University Press). The associate professor of cinema and digital media studies at the University of California, Riverside, presents novel approaches to issues of audiovisual synchronization of music and gesture in films, video, and digital works and their effect on the experience of viewing. With reference to six interwoven accounts of synchronized audiovisual media: Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky, Oskar Fischinger’s Motion Painting No. 1, Steina Vasulka’s feminist eco-ethics, to John Cameron Mitchell’s performative aesthetics, rock musicals, and current digital art and computer games, among other subjects.

June 2010

American Horror Film: The Genre at the Turn of the Millennium edited by Steffen Hantke (University Press of Mississippi). The associate professor of English at Sogang University in South Korea collects essays that contest the conviction, commonly voiced of late, that the American horror-film genre is creatively spent, politically irrelevant, and a ghost of its former self. Some of the 15 authors explore such subgenres as the teenage-horror, serial-killer, spiritual-horror, and zombie film; others look at the work of up-and-coming director Alexandre Aja; and others reassess William Malone’s maligned Feardotcom in light of the torture debate of the years of the administration of George W. Bush. Other writers examine the economic, social, and formal aspects of the genre; the globalization of the US film industry; the alleged escalation of cinematic violence; and the massive commercial popularity of the remake. Also under the microscope are the marketing of nostalgia and the schizophrenic perspective of fans who are also scholars, and scholars who are fans.

Film Adaptation in the Hollywood Studio Era by Guerric DeBona (University of Illinois Press). The professor of homiletics and communication at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana, who earlier co-wrote Savior on the Silver Screen, studies the adaptations of four novels – David Copperfield (1935), Heart of Darkness (1939), The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The Red Badge of Courage (1951). Rather than consider only the films’ allegiance to their sources, he looks at the economic and political considerations that went into constructing the films, and audience responses to them. He shows that high-minded source material from Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Eugene O’Neill, and Stephen Crane did not necessarily produce prestigious or credible films during the studio era, and he suggests that such films led to a new set of industry standards and audience expectations in film after World War II.

The Golden Age of Indianapolis Theaters by Howard Caldwell (Indiana University Press). Caldwell, a seasoned Indianapolis newscaster, chronicles theater history of the Circle City. Along with detailing theaters, he discusses the entertainments – films, burlesque shows, vaudeville routines, musical revues, symphonic performances… – at such famous theaters as the Murat, the Circle, the Indiana, the English, and the Lyric, and places them within the context of regional and national theater productions.

Guillermo Calles: A Biography of the Actor and Mexican Cinema Pioneer, by Rogelio Agrasanchez (McFarland). The director and curator of the Agrasanchez Film Archive in Harlingen, Texas, the world’s largest private collection of Mexican cinema, and the author of several books, Agrasanchez traces the life of Guillermo Calles (1893-1958) who in 1912 became the first Mexican actor to appear in films made in California. Calles began directing and producing his own movies, and in 1929 pioneered production of Spanish-language sound films. His major works, among them the long-unavailable El indio yaqui and Raza de bronce (both 1927), represented Calles’ crusade to restore the image of Mexicans and Indians in an era dominated by Hollywood stereotypes. Agrasanchez traces Calles’s career from his Hollywood debut to the 1950s. He includes the only surviving images of the filmmaker’s silent productions, a closing commentary on his intimate circle of relatives, and an appendix featuring two fascinating letters written by Calles during a filming trip.

The Philosophy of Horror edited by Thomas Fahy (University Press of Kentucky). The professor of literature and director of the American studies program at Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus gathers essays by 12 philosophers, literary scholars, and others on the appeal and repulsion of horror films and the questions they raise about fear, safety, justice, and suffering. Taking in literature and urban legends as well as films and television programs, the authors study the themes and thinking of the genre. Essays address such topics as horror films of the 1930s, Hitchcock’s Psycho, and such recent forms of horror as torture-horror films. In the press’s Philosophy of Popular Culture series.

Thomas Fahy discusses some of the challenges of illustrating his edited collection of essays

As an editor, one of the difficulties with putting together (and pulling off) a collection involves the images – making sure that we have the proper permissions and that the cost isn’t exorbitant. If five or six of the contributors want to find images to accompany their essays, this can be very exciting and fun, but it also can slow down the production of the book considerably. Every archive moves at a different pace and coordinating the permissions from lots of different sources can be a challenge. For this collection, I decided to find the images myself using Photofest. They have numerous images available on their online database, and they have an office here in New York City with additional images. It worked very well. The biggest surprise was finding an image of the chess match between Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi for Paul Cantor’s essay on Ulmer’s The Black Cat. He discusses that scene (as well as many other aspects of the film, of course), but it was the perfect fit for his piece!

The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film edited by Sally Chivers and Nicole Markotic (Ohio State University Press). Sally Chivers, chair of the of department of Canadian studies at Trent University, and Nicole Markotić, an associate professor of English and disability studies at the University of Windsor, collect essays by 11 disabilities scholars from Britain, Canada, South Korea, and the United States who study portrayals of disability in film noir, French film, classic Hollywood cinema, and illness narratives. In particular, the authors explore a new approach to the study of film by concentrating on cinematic representations of what they term “the problem body” and “hierarchies of difference” – how disability is seen compared with gender, sexuality, race, and class.

Sally Chivers and Nicole Makotic relate why they searched high and wide for one clip:

A weekly Canadian television skit show, Kids in the Hall, presented socially problematic comedy. In our introduction, we focused on one of the show’s skits, “Academy Awards,” as an example of how Hollywood not only presents characters with disabilities, but also rewards able-bodied actors for portraying such characters. In writing about that show, we had difficulty finding any source material about the skit, most likely because of its title (try using a search engine to find anything called “Academy Awards” and one is unlikely to discover a minutes-long television skit from the 90s, in Canada!). As we say in our intro, the skit does more than offer merely another parody of the Oscars, for it also returns the viewers’ attention back onto the language that designates one kind of body as having a say over another kind. In the skit one actor is nominated for his role as Hamlet, a role that is dramatically and expertly depicted in an exceedingly short “Oscar clip.” The remaining three have all played characters with disabilities. Predictably, rather than a single Oscar winner, there is a three-way tie among the able-bodied actors playing disabled characters. As one of the award presenters calls it, “Everybody but the Hamlet guy!”

Punk Slash! Musicals: Tracking Slip-Sync on Film by David Laderman (University of Texas Press). A professor of film at the College of San Mateo in California whose earlier book was Driving Visions: Exploring the Road Movie (UTP, 2002) has written what is apparently the first fook to focus on punk narrative films. He examines British and American punk-rock films from Derek Jarman’s underground Jubilee (1978) to Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy (1986) through the optic of two critical coinages: ‘(s)lip-sync’ and ‘in/authenticity.’ He argues that these aspects of punk-music films capture “the interdependence of resistance and collusion that makes punk (along with rap) prototypical of popular culture in the era of late capital.” Other films he studies include Breaking Glass, Times Square, Smithereens, and Starstruck. “Slip-sync” refers to moments when punk performers create tension within the film by slip the narrative or genre context of a film to point to other thematic and narrative conflicts including the key punk negotiation between “authenticity” and “inauthenticity.” Laderman explores such features of punk films as their strong female leads and the films’ treatment of gender and race.

David Laderman talks about archival aspects of his research:

I primarily used DVDs of the films I discussed. In some cases, those were hard to find. But I never had to go to any institutional archive to look at films, or other related materials. I will say, however, that the films I cover (British and American punk films from roughly 1978-86) are relatively rare narrative (or experimental narrative) films that are not so well known. They have been somewhat “forgotten” by film history, so again some of the titles are rare or difficult to come by (on DVD).

For example there are a group of films relevant to my discussion, from the NY “no wave” underground in the mid-1970s, many of which are not available commercially on DVD. Some of these are only available for rental or purchase through small distributors. It would have been nice to have these films on hand to look at. The fact is, I probably could have made more effort to get them, but my time and resources were limited. They were not the primary subject of the book. Those films are more of the underground/experimental bent.

One film I devote an entire chapter to, Breaking Glass, does not even come up on Netflix. It is available on DVD, but only for purchase on something like Amazon, and only sporadically. There are also two different versions out there, with two different endings, the UK and the USA releases. I was able to get a copy put out by a small independent distrib company.

A bizarre cult film that was not available on DVD for a very long time just recently was remastered and released on DVD: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. This release came out just in time for me to use it while writing: I devote an entire chapter to the film. Previously it was available on bootleg DVD, or old VHS copies very hard to come by. There is an IFC documentary about this film that I had to track down, finally contacting the filmmaker himself, who happens to live and work here in the Bay Area. I bought a DVD copy directly from him, included on a compilation DVD with some of his other films.

A couple of other films I discuss are not readily available on DVD – Dennis Hopper’s Out of the Blue, two punk films each with the title Blank Generation, as well as Liquid Sky – I either had to buy these second hand over the Internet, or find them in video rental stores here in SF. Some of them are low-grade bootleg copies.

One last thing I’ll mention is that I was interested in finding any reviews of these films in punk fanzines from the early 1980s; but these are very hard to come by. Some are archived on the internet; some are collected in university libraries throughout the US. But this would have involved extensive research that I simply did not have the time or resources to undertake. It also, from the little research I did do into these punk fanzines, was never clear to me whether they did indeed contain film reviews. While the issues might be archived, the articles within them do not seem to be, so it would be quite laborious to page through so many issues.

Unsettling Sights: The Fourth World on Film by Corinn Columpar (Southern Illinois University Press). In what may be the scholarly examination of aboriginality and cinema, the associate professor of cinema studies at the University of Toronto explores the politics of representing aboriginality in cinema through the lenses of film theory, postcolonial theory, and indigenous theory. She examines many contemporary feature films from both first- and fourth-world filmmakers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States from the standpoints of both the contents of the productions and also such contextual issues as funding, personnel, modes of production, and means of distribution. She also examines such topics as contact narratives in which the aboriginal subject is constructed in response to colonizing invaders, and efforts by indigenous filmmakers to define aboriginality on its own terms.

May 2010

Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film by Hsiu-Chuang Deppman
(University of Hawaii Press). An associate professor of Chinese at Oberlin College argues that new literary movements played an important role in the rise of cinema in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the late 1980s. She suggests that worldwide audiences have been unaware that contemporary Chinese films draw from experimental writers to achieve their distinctive and popular narratives and styles, as well as their studies of the films’ engagement in the politics of gender, class, and race.

Afghanistan in the Cinema by Mark Graham (University of Illinois Press). The Pennsylvania-based author of How Islam Created the Modern World and several works of fiction including the Edgar Allan Poe Award–winning novel The Black Maria: A Mystery of Old Philadelphia, explores cinema representations of the country from within and without. He looks at what films say about Afghanistan, Islam, and the West and argues that that teaches lessons for dealing with current crises. He analyzes market factors, funding sources, and political agendas that shaped films from 1970s epics like The Man Who Would Become King and The Horsemen, through such Russian-War-era films as The Beast and Rambo III, to such Taliban-era films as Kandahar, Osama, and Ellipsis, the first Afghan film directed by a woman. Graham also argues that films such as Charlie Wilson’s War are expressions of imperialist nostalgia. Says filmmaker Ellen Seiter: “Graham makes a wise and rarely heard argument about the ways the international art film festival circuit is guilty of ethnocentrism.” 

African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900-1960 by Charlene Regester (Indiana University Press). An associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who edits the Oscar Micheaux Society Newsletter examines the place of black women in Hollywood before the civil-rights era. She looks at the work of nine actresses, from Madame Sul-Te-Wan in Birth of a Nation (1915) to Ethel Waters in Member of the Wedding (1952), and investigates racial politics, on-screen and off-screen identities, and black versus white stardom. She reveals how the actresses fought for their roles as well as pressures on them to bow to cultural preconceptions.

Charlene Regester talks about her use of archives:

I used a multitude of resources such as the archives located in our library here on campus and amazon.com, in addition to local rental stores. Sometimes, I had access to videos located at neighboring libraries. In many instances, some of these films were available on AMC or the Ted Turner movie channel. Because most of the films from pre-1950 are not readily available, I utilized every resource available to me. Because my project took several years to develop, when I started the project several films were not available or accessible but by the time I finished the project, these films were.

Animating Space: From Mickey to Wall-E by J.P. Telotte (University Press of Kentucky). Focusing on American animation, the professor of literature, communication, and culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and author of Disney TV, explores the development of animation’s consideration and use of space, and the results of that encounter, from Winsor McCay and the Fleischer brothers, in the early history of animation, to the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., and Pixar Studios leading up to the digital age where animators are redefining the possibilities of cinema.

Authors Out Here: Fitzgerald, West, Parker, and Schulberg in Hollywood by Tom Cerasulo (University of South Carolina Press). An assistant professor of English and the Shaughness Family Chair for the Study of the Humanities at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, reevaluates the often tense relationship between the film industry and four writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathanael West, Dorothy Parker, and Budd Schulberg. He argues that the encounter, at the height of the studio era, was mutually beneficial, and at odds with popular accounts that characterize the Hollywood careers of the writers as motivated by their mockery of the studios’ damage to their literary creativity. Rather, Cerasulo argues, the writers gained financial, creative, and social resources, and what they wrote about film in their fiction about studio culture and writers’ place in it provides some of the earliest film theory, including arguments about what struggles for creative control of scripts revealed about notions of authorship and authority. Cerasulo contends that writers’ realization that they were creatively contributing to a larger cultural endeavor inspired some of their best and most career-advancing writing.

Chromatic Cinema: A History of Screen Color, by Richard Misek (Wiley-Blackwell). In what the publisher claims is the first broad theoretical and historical overview of screen color, a short-film maker who lectures in screen studies at the University of Bristol draws on optical theory, art history, and film technology to propose a controversial theory: that conventional distinctions between film color and film black-and-white are misconstrued, and that the opposition should give way to a realization of the uses of black and white and color should be discussed in the context of a “chromatic opposition” that “has been adapted, challenged, discarded, inverted, and reasserted in various ways throughout cinema history.” With examples from Hollywood, the European Art Film, Asia and Eastern Europe, Misek ranges from hand painting in early skirt dance films to current trends in digital color manipulation, along the way considering Expressionist animation, Hollywood,and Bollywood musicals, the US “indie” boom, 1980s neo-noir, Hong Kong cinema, and recent comic-book films.

Cinema in an Age of Terror: North Africa, Victimization, and Colonial History by Michael F. O’Riley (University of Nebraska Press). O’Riley, an associate professor of French and Italian at Colorado College, shows how film representations of colonial-era victimization, and their audience reception, bear on understanding of the modern age of terror. He argues that a focus on victimization in such films as The Battle of Algiers, Days of Glory, Caché, and recent works by Maghrebien filmmakers can encourage an embrace of victimization that encourages terroristic resistance to current political tensions. O’Riley’s previous books were Francophone Culture and the Postcolonial Fascination with Ethnic Crimes and Colonial Aura and Postcolonial Haunting and Victimization: Assia Djebar’s New Novels.

A Companion to Michael Haneke, edited by Roy Grundmann (Wiley-Blackwell). An associate professor of film studies at Boston University who earlier co-edited the multi-volume Blackwell History of American Film presents new essays about the director’s German and French language films such as The White Ribbon, La Pianiste, Time of the Wolf, Three Paths to the Lake, and Caché as well as his newly available television work of the 1970s and 1980s. The essayists, who range from senior scholars to doctoral students, consider the themes, topics, and subjects that have occupied Haneke, such as the fate of European cinema, Haneke in Hollywood, pornography, alienation, citizenship, colonialism, and surveillance.

Darkly Perfect World: Colonial Adventure, Postmodernism, and American Noir by Stanley Orr (Ohio State University Press). A professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i, West O‘ahu, relates the emergence of hard-boiled detective fiction and film from late Victorian, colonial adventure tales, and then to more recent postmodern literature and film – Pynchon, Tarantino… He suggests changing notions of the self, along that chain, including the noir sense of alienated selfhood within a “darkly perfect world,” and a subsequent postmodern scenario of con men and “connected guys” in recent films noirs such as Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects, David Fincher’s Seven, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

Stanley Orr describes how he tracked down his films:

Throughout my research and writing, I have made extensive use of various kinds of moving-picture archives. My mainstay has been the personal film archive that I have established over the years. But I also enjoy the resources afforded by Netflix, brick-and-mortar video rental stores, public libraries, and university collections. On two occasions, I enjoyed the privilege of screening 16mm prints at UCLA’s Film and Television Archive. In one instance, I was able to win an ebay auction for a 16mm print of John H. Auer’s Hell’s Half Acre (1954) and lodged this film in the archives of my own institution, the University of Hawai‘i, West O‘ahu. This print is a favorite for on-campus film festivals and screenings related to our course offerings.

I have also relied upon ephemeral motion-picture archives. Televised screenings of rare films noirs, most especially those offered by Turner Movie Classics and the Independent Film Channel, prove quite helpful. Film festivals likewise make for an invaluable moving picture archive. I recall a particularly fortuitous screening at the 2002 Palm Springs Film Noir Festival. My wife and I intended to screen the festival’s presentation of Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945); but we ended up in a screening of Edmund Goulding’s 1947 adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s roman noir Nightmare Alley (1946); the print was obtained by San Francisco’s Marc Dolezal. At that time, Nightmare Alley was not available on DVD and very difficult to find on VHS. The opportunity to reflect on Goulding’s adaptation dramatically enabled my thinking and writing.

As these reminiscences suggest, most of the films addressed in Darkly Perfect World are readily screened via DVD. But some of the less available titles may be screened only through university archives or provisional opportunities such as film festivals. I’m indebted to the folks who maintain archives fixed and ephemeral.

English Filming, English Writing by Jefferson Hunter (Indiana University Press). The professor of English and film studies at Smith College examines the interplay of English films and television dramas, and English culture in the 20th century. He traces themes such as the influence of U.S. crime drama on English film, and film adaptations of literary works as they appear in screen work from the 1930s to the present. He analyzes A Canterbury Tale and the documentary Listen to Britain in the context of village pageants and other wartime explorations of Englishness at risk. English crime dramas are set against the writings of George Orwell, while a famous line from Noel Coward leads to a discussion of music and image in works like Brief Encounter and Look Back in Anger. Screen adaptation is also broached in analyses of the 1985 BBC version of Dickens’s Bleak House and Merchant-Ivory’s The Remains of the Day.

Jefferson Hunter talks about his use of archives:

I mainly depended on a lot of different though ordinary outlets for getting hold of DVDs and videos: Smith College’s holdings of British film and television (which thanks to some faculty grants, I’d been able to enlarge substantially over the years) or other libraries in the Five College system; commercial outlets, including a spectacularly good local video store; and the occasional interlibrary loan. However, I also used fairly extensively the collections of the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute in London. There, I saw otherwise unavailable British films and television programs – some of them on video, but most on 35mm prints, which I viewed on a Steenbeck machine.

My Life as a Night Elf Priest : An Anthropological Account of World of WarCraft by Bonnie A. Nardi (University of Michigan Press). An anthropologist in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, analyzes the massively popular massively-multiplayer-online (MMO) game, World of WarCraft, with its 11.5 million subscribers. Based on three years of participatory research in WarCraft play and culture in the United States and China, she suggests what engages and drives users, and proposes ideas about games, in general. In the series digitalculturebooks.

Bonnie Nardi reflects on video games and archiving:

Two sets of archiving issues confront researchers studying video games. The first is one’s own archive of screenshots and chatlogs. While it is easy to collect such texts and pictures, the problem lies in assembling enough contextualizing data to fruitfully use them as interpretive materials. A screenshot from a World of WarCraft raid, for example, yields rich but incomplete data. Who was speaking on voice chat at that moment? Who was offscreen? What was that warrior doing – he is obscured by the monster. There are no good solutions to this problem of data, and meta-data, assemblage; each researcher cobbles together a private system of notes and tags, and hopes for the best.

The second issue is the game itself. It is always changing through updates and expansions. There are illegal private servers with varying versions of the game, some similar to earlier versions, but authenticity cannot be guaranteed as private servers never provide exact copies. Megan Winget, a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, is addressing the issue of archiving video games. Special problems of computer hardware, software, and expertise make this a challenging arena of research. Books and film have their own technical difficulties of course, but the issues seem even more daunting for computer-based artifacts. I am beginning to study the history of World of WarCraft, so am keenly interested in how archiving tasks will be accomplished. The game has changed considerably since its release in 2004. A very big change is imminent; the new version of the game is called Cataclysm, and as the name implies, the world will be completely altered. I eagerly await the work of scholars such as Winget whose attention to archiving will make historical analysis of game worlds possible.

New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, and Memory by Asuman Suner (I.B. Tauris/Palgrave Macmillan). An assistant professor of communication and design at Bilkent University in Turkey situates the films of such directors as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Zeki Demirkubuz, and Yılmaz Erdoğan in the “paradoxes of belonging” evident in recent social change in Turkey. She shows how films treat the theme of “belonging” and how popular films tend to present a comforting resolution in contrast to art films that tend to explore the paradoxical nature of belonging.

What Cinema Is!, by Dudley Andrew (Wiley-Blackwell). The Yale University professor of film and comparative literature, who has written such books as Mists of Regret: Culture and Sensibility in Classic French Film (Princeton, 1995) and Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture (Harvard, 2005), responds to Andre Bazin’s famous question with a sweeping study of the art form in which he reviews cinema’s century-long ascendancy, reflects on what distinguishes cinema from recent audio-visual entertainments, and examines cinema’s institutions and its social force.

April 2010

Calling All Cars: Radio Dragnets and the Technology of Policing by Kathleen Battles (University of Minnesota Press). An assistant professor of communication and journalism at Oakland University describes how radio shows, with such catchphrases as “calling all cars,” helped to popularize the role of American cops during the post-Depression years, during the “golden age of radio.” In her final chapter, Battles reflects on the persistence of such themes in subsequent eras where the moving image – television, surveillance film, and other media – replaced radio as a tool of police enforcement and mythologizing. She writes: If, in the golden age of radio, “police professionalism was rooted in the fetishization of scientific methods and organizational perfection that promised to arrest forms of social and physical mobility,” it is no wonder that “a brief look at any television schedule filled with police dramas tells us that their enduring legacy is found in the police-centered narratives that view all other events and characters in these series from the police perspective.”

Cinema at the City’s Edge: Film and Urban Networks in East Asia, edited by Yomi Braester and James Tweedie (University of Washington Press, in cooperation with Hong Kong University Press’s TransAsia: Screen Cultures series).   Scholars of cinema, architecture, and urban studies from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States investigate the portrayal of East Asian cities in cinema. 

Based on an international conference devoted to the historically new urban spaces under construction in East Asia and their representation in film and other media.

Yomi Braester discusses his use of archives with MIAN:

I did use a number of archives. They included the Beijing Film Archive, which is the only one in possession of some of the materials (for example, Chinese documentaries from the 1960s); the archives of the Shanghai Media Group, which holds many TV programs and video materials used solely for internal Communist Party consumption; the Shanghai and Beijing Municipal archives, which are now thoroughly computerized – they don’t have any moving images as far as I know, but they have much related materials; and the Beijing People’s Art Theater archives, which do include some recordings, although I did not use them. One of the reasons for not relying on the BPAT recordings is that unlike the US or anywhere else I know, videos are widely available on the free market in China. That’s true for film classics as well as theater productions. Another form of archive that may be somewhat special for China is collections of independent films. There are such collections at Shanghai University, Fanhall (in Songzhuang, near Beijing), UC-San Diego, and a few other, smaller places; other foundations have idiosyncratic but marvelous collections, notably the Long Bow Group. People familiar with these circles rarely need to use the formal archives; instead, they get copies from the curators or from the directors (which is what I did). I have a long list of acknowledgments in my book, and it reflects the large amount of help I received from archivists, curators, and other facilitators of archival material.

The steepest learning curve had to do with finding out whom to approach for unofficial materials, and which stores hold the best collections of published VCDs and DVDs. A memorable experience of an obstacle was my attempt to use the archives of the News and Documentary Film Studio. I was ushered into a room, where the archivist was extremely friendly. He explained to me that the materials I was interested in were just across the hall from where we sat. Then he said: “to get into that room, all you need is a letter of recommendation – from a person at the ministerial level.” My connections in Beijing do not extend to national bureau chiefs, so I have never crossed that corridor.

Cinema – Italy, by Stefania Parigi (Manchester University Press). In a book series dedicated to avoiding what its organizers view as excessive indulgence in cultural rather than aesthetic approaches to cinema, a professor of the history of the Italian cinema at Università degli Studi Roma Tre addresses Cesare Zavattini’s theories on neorealism; Roberto Rossellini’s Paisà; Luchino Visconti’s construction of meaning using language, settings, costume, and light; and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s physical and symbolic construction of heaven and earth, particularly in his last four films. In the series Cinema Aesthetics.

Cinepaternity: Fathers and Sons in Soviet and Post-Soviet Film, edited by Helena Goscilo and Yana Hashamova (Indiana University Press). Essays that reflect on the tensions of the father-son dynamic in films of the post-Stalinist Soviet cinema and its Russian successor – the work of such directors as Balabanov, Bekmambetov, Khutsiev, Mashkov, Motyl’, Sokurov, Tarkovsky, and Todorovskii.

Famous Faces Not Yet Themselves: “The Misfits” and Icons of Postwar America by George Kouvaros (University of Minnesota Press). An associate professor of film at the University of South Wales and author of is the author of Where Does It Happen? John Cassavetes and Cinema at the Breaking Point (Minnesota, 2004) and co-editor of Falling for You: Essays on Cinema and Performance (University of Illinois Press, 1999) explores the shifting iconography of the actor in the postwar era through a study of Magnum photographs taken on the Nevada set of the 1960 filming of The Misfits, the collaboration of director John Huston and playwright Arthur Miller and the final roles of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. By studying how the rapidly changing film industry reflected societal changes in the United States, Kouvaros seeks to throw fresh light on the connection between the power of star culture, art photography, and the film industry.

Hindi Action Cinema: Industries, Narratives, Bodies, by Valentina Vitali (Indiana University Press). Relating the history of Bombay action films, a senior lecturer in film studies at the University of East London, and co-editor of Theorising National Cinema (British Film Institute, 2006) investigates the films’ socioeconomic context, and how such links led to the prominence and marketability of action. She considers such factors as the popularity of stunt films in the 1920s; the role of women in action films from the mid-1920s to the end of the 1930s; and socioeconomic factors in the popularity of such figures as Master Vithal, Ermeline (the Jewish Indian actress known as India’s Clara Bow), Fearless Nadia, Dara Singh, and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as other, more contemporary figures.

“Pioneering in its study of the importance of exhibition and distribution to the Hindi film industry,” according to Rachel Dwyer, SOAS, University of London. (Previously released in UK by Oxford University Press, 2008)

Master Vithal in a scene from Alam Arya (1931), directed by Ardeshir Irani, the first sound film in Indian cinema, a torrid tale of a love triangle that went as badly as some do. Wikimedia Commons


Humphrey Jennings by Keith Beattie (Manchester University Press, distributed by Palgrave Macmillan). A senior lecturer in the history, heritage, and society at Deakin University, Australia, presents a critical study of the British documentary filmmaker (and poet, propagandist, and surrealist filmmaker). Jennings’s work embodies an outstanding mix of startling apprehension, personal expression, and representational innovation that has earned him the title of foremost poet of British cinema. His documentary films of Britain at peace and war, and his range of representational approaches, transcended accepted notions of wartime propaganda and revised the strict codes of British documentary film of the 1930s and 1940s. A propagandist and surrealist, he mixed startling apprehension, personal expression, and representational innovation in films like Spare Time, Words for Battle, Listen to Britain, Fires Were Started, The Silent Village, A Diary for Timothy, and Family Portrait. The book appears in the series, British Film Makers. Beattie’s previous books include Documentary Screens: Non-Fiction Film and Television (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Documentary Screens: Nonfiction Film and Television (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), The Cinema of Australia and New Zealand (Wallflower Press, 2007), Documentary Display: Re-Viewing Nonfiction Film and Video (Wallflower Press, 2008), and Albert and David Maysles: Interviews (University of Mississippi Press, 2010), and he is working on D.A. Pennebaker, a volume in the Contemporary Film Directors series of the University of Illinois Press.

Keith Beattie talks about finding the films of Humphrey Jennings:

Linked to, and reinforcing, Humphrey Jennings’ reputation as a pre-eminent member of the British documentary film movement is the fact that the majority of his films are now accessible in a variety of formats in various locations.

The film holdings of the Imperial War Museum in London and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne were useful in writing my book (Manchester University Press, 2010), as were commercially released DVD collections of Jennings’ work. Most of the commercially available DVDs include central Jennings films such as Spare Time (1939), Listen to Britain (1942), Fires Were Started (1943), and A Diary for Timothy (1945). Certain DVDs contain other valuable inclusions, such as Leonard Brockington’s spoken introduction to Listen to Britain, a feature not always found on archival copies of the film.

A series of DVDs issued by the British Film Institute provided further points of access to Jennings’ work. The BFI’s GPO Film Unit Collection, volumes 1 to 3, includes a number of early and otherwise rare films by Jennings. The first volume in the collection, Addressing the Nation, includes Pett and Pott (1934), a film based on an idea by Jennings; volume two, We Live in Two Worlds, includes Jennings’ early film Penny Journey (1938), and If War Should Come; volume three includes his film S.S. Ionian (1939). An associated collection issued by the BFI in 2008 as the four-disc Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950 includes Jennings’ film Farewell Topsails (1937). While rich sources for British documentary film generally (and as of 2010 a further collection was issued as Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977), the value of these collections to the study of Jennings’ films is underlined in the fact that certain print sources dealing with Jennings’ work, among them a biography of Jennings, list a number of the early works by Jennings collected on these DVDs as lost or unavailable.

Interestingly, since the release of these collections (volumes one to three of the GPO Film Unit Collection were issued in 2008) many of Jennings’ early films (including those mentioned here) are now publicly available via the BFI Screenonline site (www.screenonline.org.uk).

International film festivals provide another point of access to Jennings’ films. In recent years Jennings’ films have been exhibited at, among other festivals and meetings, the Imperial War Museum (in September 2000 and May 2006) and the Huesca Film Festival in June 2005, and in 2007 Words for Battle (1941) was exhibited in the Classics Section of the Cannes Film Festival. Other screenings in 2007 of Jennings’ films included the Documentary Film Institute at San Francisco State University in March, his birthplace of Walberswick, Suffolk in September, the Hull International Short Film Festival in October, and Anthology Film Archives in New York in November.

In these and other ways my research was enriched by archival practice and the curatorial activities of film festivals.

Levinas and the Cinema of Redemption: Time, Ethics, and the Feminine, by Sam B. Girgus (Columbia University Press). In the first book-length study of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and film, Girgus, a professor of English at Vanderbilt University draws on Levinas’s ethical philosophy, as well as feminist theory, in a study of such films as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, La Dolce Vita, L’avventura, The Misfits, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Girgus suggests that the films dramatize the struggle to achieve ethical transcendence as individuals experience a maturation from what Levinas calls the “ontological adventure” of immediate experience into the “ethical adventure of the relationship to the other person” – from being to ethics, from ontological identity to ethical subjectivity. Dudley Andrew, Yale University: “Sam Girgus daringly and deftly presses the case for cinema’s ultimate philosophical consequences. Girgus even presses the case for an ethics that goes beyond philosophy. We may believe we are familiar with the Classic Hollywood and European art films we love, but Girgus makes us take another look, a long Levinasian look that finally faces up to the faces on the screen. When we then look away, we realize we have found something more about the films, about Levinas, and about the limitations of our viewing of films and our living of life. Nothing could be healthier.” Tina Chanter, DePaul University: “Appropriating Levinas’s ethics of transcendence, Girgus inaugurates a new direction for film studies. His particularly welcome focus on time and the feminine opens up the cinema of redemption in crucially important ways.”

Sam Girgus, who earlier wrote Hollywood Renaissance: The Cinema of Democracy in the Era of Ford, Capra, and Kazan; The Films of Woody Allen; and America on Film: Modernism, Documentary, and a Changing America, describes his experience preparing his book:

I basically rely on DVDs in my own collection that I buy or borrow to study for class, research, and writing. This new book represents the greatest challenge, surprise, reward of all the others that I have written – I was learning and developing it every step of the way, beginning with the first idea which involved a focus on other philosophers in addition to Levinas, but it then came to a concentration on this one philosopher. The great surprise was how much I learned from studying him and how rewarding that was in terms of my own personal education and then how I could put it all together for a new approach to film. So, a lot of this, maybe most of it, was new ground and new learning for me and perhaps to some extent new ground for others. When it was completed I felt as though I had done something that was mine but also that I was standing on the shoulders of some amazing people and benefited from the opportunity to study some amazing philosophers and thinkers in the field beginning with Tina Chanter, Kelly Oliver, Ewa Ziarek, and David Wood. So I was caught up in what become a new way of thinking and then teaching as well. It’s a wonderful experience to use film as the keelson for a new intellectual structure and then a voyage of new ideas and approaches – and just as wonderful to find my home.

Marco Bellocchio: The Cinematic I in the Political Sphere by Clodagh J. Brook (University of Toronto Press). The senior lecturer in Italian studies at the University of Birmingham, who in 2005 completed a research project on dream and hallucination in film which resulted in a series of articles on Moretti, Fellini, Bellocchio, and other directors, offers psychoanalytic and other perspectives on the prolific contemporary Italian director of I pugni in tasca (Fist in His Pocket, 1965), La Cina è vicina (China Is Near, 1967), Nel nome del padre (In the Name of the Father, 1971), Diavolo in corpo (Devil in the Flesh, 1986), and many more features. Brook studies Bellochio’s personal, anti-institutional work, and its inescapable entanglement with film’s late-capitalist industrial model of production, by examining his treatment of issues of public and private, political and personal, and collective and individual, and his relations to psychoanalysis, politics, film production, autobiography, and the relationship between film tradition and contemporary culture.

March 2010

Surveillance in the Time of Insecurity by Torin Monahan (Rutgers University Press). The associate professor of human & organizational development and associate professor of medicine at 
Vanderbilt University explores the interplay of inequality, insecurity, and surveillance with examples drawn from such cultural realms as Christian “rapture” fiction and the TV show 24 to the actualities of gated communities and traffic-control centers.

Torin Monahan discusses how he found footage for his study:

I relied on Netflix to assist me with the writing of two chapters of Surveillance in the Time of Insecurity. In one chapter I analyze the counterterrorism-themed show 24 and trace its connections to popular conceptions of risks posed by terrorism. I obtained all the seasons of the show through Netflix and then coordinated my analysis by referencing plot synopses on the show’s website. Additionally, I read numerous stories and reports about the effects of the show upon soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and upon members of the Bush administration and other public officials.

In another chapter, I analyze the popular genre of “rapture fiction,” with a focus on the Left Behind series. In addition to accessing the Left Behind books, I also obtained from Netflix the two feature films made about the story. The chapter argues that feelings of insecurity are often used by communities to justify harsh or unequal treatment of people considered to be different. In the narrative of the Left Behind story, belief in the forthcoming destruction of the world is used as a rationalization for excluding others and abdicating responsibility for the greater social good.

In research for another chapter, on intelligent transportation systems (ITS), I also viewed video footage monitored and shared by transportation engineers. Some of the most disturbing of these Internet-shared video files were of car crashes at intersections and of pedestrians being hit by vehicles moving at high speeds. It struck me that these files, which were shared among engineers through email, were pornographic in their gratuitous presentation of violence, so I have opted not to reproduce that violence in my speaking or writing on the topic. However, in the chapter on ITS, I do discuss other video footage monitored and acted upon, mostly in real-time, by transportation engineers and others.

What kinds of challenges, rewards, experiences, or surprises did you have, in the archival part of your project?

The chapter I wrote on 24 simply couldn’t have been written without accessing all the seasons and episodes of that show. Thus, the biggest reward was that the moving-image archive, as such, made possible in-depth analysis of this highly entertaining show.

Viewing the seasons in this way allowed me to take a step back and look for dominant themes and connections among the various plot lines and to draw out – in my writing – the implications of those themes for real-world experiences and politics. One key challenge was coding the shows in such a way that I could readily access quotes or reference particular plot lines. If there were transcripts available of the shows, that would have assisted this process immensely.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the challenges and rewards of viewing the Left Behind films. In the course of the research for this chapter, I was surprised to discover that this campy and roughly made media could attract such a monumental following. That made it all the more imperative, in my mind, to take the works and their potential ramifications seriously.

Finally, in doing the research for writing the chapter on intelligent transportation systems, I was surprised to find out that transportation engineers were reluctant to comment on – or even acknowledge – the ways in which their collected images and videos circulate (to other engineers, to the media, to the police). Transportation engineers do not see their work as being about “surveillance,” in spite of the fact that some of their activities clearly are surveillant ones. Even if engineers are not engaged in surveillance, however, the systems they oversee allow for the capture and circulation of images and data to other people, some of whom are very interested in monitoring and controlling others.


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