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Cultural History of Film in the United States

Author(s): C. Austin Hill

Edition: 1

Copyright: 2018

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Cultural History of Film in the United States examines film from the United States of America through a cultural studies perspective. This book seeks to explore the sociocultural conditions that cause film to be made, and those conditions that cause film to change. Moving chronologically through the 120-year history of American film, each chapter focuses on a small selection of films that elucidate the historically specific ideas, priorities, fears, and desires of their moment of creation.

This book provides readers with a way to understand film as a cultural artifact, allowing films to be situated as something bigger than escapist entertainment. Though the book follows a chronological format, each chapter will be able to stand alone as a case-study of its own, allowing instructors to use either the entire book or specific chapters to expand their student’s understandings of the historical conditions that influence film. Instead of an attempt at a comprehensive exploration of American film, the author has opted for deep readings of representative films that speak to broader historical moments and narratives. With this approach, this book should be an asset to instructors seeking a companion to existing film textbooks, or as a primary text for a film studies course.

Chapter 1: Beginnings: Th e Cultural Origins of Film in the United States

Chapter 2: Inventors and Innovators: 1895–1910

Chapter 3: Shaking and Shaping a Nation: D.W. Griffith and Friends (1910–1920)

Chapter 4: Jazz and Comedy and Heart: Chaplin and Keaton in the Roaring Twenties 

Chapter 5: Talking Pictures, or, America Learns to Listen (1927–1930) 

Chapter 6: On Depression: Gangsters and Heroes 

Chapter 7: Broken Molds and the Production Code (1934–1940) 

Chapter 8: World War II Propaganda Films, or Hollywood Shapes the Narrative 

Chapter 9: Film Noir and the Postwar Haze (1945–1950) 

Chapter 10: Early Science Fiction: Fearing the Other in Red Scare America 

Chapter 11: Movie Musicals in Th eir Golden Age (1950s) 

Chapter 12: Civil Rights, War, and Protest: Alternate Viewpoints on Screen (1960s) 

Chapter 13: “New Cinema”: Revision and Pluralism (1970–1975) 

Chapter 14: “Traditional” Values, Technical Brilliance: Hollywood in the Late 1970s 

Chapter 15: Reflecting the Mainstream: Reaganomics Goes Hollywood (1980s)

C. Austin Hill

C. Austin (Chris) Hill is an Assistant Professor of Theatre History at Youngstown State University, and was previously the Director of the Theatre Program at Tennessee Wesleyan University. Chris holds a PhD in Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, and Criticism from The Ohio State University, specializing in Irish theatre and Irish culture. A cultural studies historian, Chris’s work involves an interdisciplinary approach pulling from folklore, myth, literary criticism, and historiography; his dissertation was entitled “We’ve All to Grow Old”: Representations of Aging as Reflections of Cultural Change on the Celtic Tiger Irish Stage.”

Chris recently published a chapter in Autumnal Faces: Old Age in British and Irish Dramatic Narratives (Ed. Katarzyna Bronk), in addition to a chapter in The Supernatural Revamped (Barbara Brodman and James Doan, eds.), an article in Irish Studies South, and reviews in Theatre Journal. Chris has presented at conferences across the United States, in London, and in Ireland.

Chris is also an active theatre artist and has directed professionally and at the university level throughout the United States. Recently, Chris directed The Importance of Being Earnest, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Urinetown: The Musical, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and the World Premiere of A Night of Blacker Darkness by Allison Hill and Dan Wells, based on the book by Dan Wells (at Tennessee Wesleyan University). In Columbus, he directed the Ohio premiere of Frank McCourt’s musical The Irish…And How They Got That Way (for Solstice Theatre Company), the world premiere of Elysium Interrupted by Jill Summerville (for OSU), the Ohio premier of The Illusion by Tony Kushner (for Evolution Theatre Company), and the world premiere of King Arthur and the Sword of Britain by Philip J. Hickman (for Actor’s Theatre of Columbus). Chris is excited to have made his Youngstown debut with Youngstown State University Department of Theater and Dance’s No More Peace, and Hairspray at the Youngstown Playhouse in May. In 2017, Chris will direct Spring Awakening at YSU, and in 2018, Caroline, or Change at the Youngstown Playhouse.

Related ISBN's: 9781524967154, 9781524974466

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