Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth

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9780195140934: Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth
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Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth is a broad cultural study that connects the rise of film to the rise of America as a cultural center and world power in the twentieth century. Cohen argues that through the medium of silent film, America was able to sever its literary and linguistic ties to Europe, assert its cultural independence, and forge a unique form of cultural expression. Silent films drew on elements developed in popular forms of representation like photography, landscape panoramas, and vaudeville performance to create a medium that more accurately represented the American experience.

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About the Author:

Paula Marantz Cohen, Professor of Humanities, Drexel University.

From Library Journal:

Veteran cultural critic Cohen (Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism) explores the advent of the silent film, asserting that the early 20th-century medium represented what American society at the time both embraced (e.g., authentic expression and self-determinism) and rejected (e.g., antiquated European notions and societal stasis). The author considers the "raw materials" of film the body, the landscape, and the face and these components' respective 19th-century antecedents in vaudeville, panoramic displays, and portrait photography. She also discusses their corollaries in genre (comedy, the Western, and melodrama) and their film "vocabulary" (the cut, the long shot, and the close-up). Her contention that the medium is reflexive is not new, yet her seamless integration of seemingly disparate facts is refreshing and convincing. Cohen even reserves some praise for the consumerism fed by the star system and its concomitant fandom. The reader will gain insights into the American "myth" and will regret only that the book is so slim. A thoughtful, engaging, and scholarly study of the American myth of self-creation. Jayne Plymale, Univ. of Georgia, Athens
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780195140941: Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth

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ISBN 10:  019514094X ISBN 13:  9780195140941
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2001
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