Babel and Babylon
Although cinema was invented in the mid-1890s, it was a decade more before the concept of a "film spectator" emerged. As the cinema began to separate itself from the commercial entertainments in whose context films initially had been shown--vaudeville, dime museums, fairgrounds--a particular concept of its spectator was developed on the level of film style, as a means of predicting the reception of films on a mass scale. In Babel and Babylon Miriam Hansen offers an original perspective on American film by tying the emergence of spectatorship to the historical transformation of the public sphere. Hansen builds a critical framework for understanding the cultural formation of spectatorship, drawing on the Frankfurt School's debates on mass culture and the public sphere. Focusing on exemplary moments in the American silent era, she explains how the concept of the spectator evolved as a crucial part of the classical Hollywood paradigm--as one of the new industry's strategies to integrate ethnically, socially, and sexually differentiated audiences into a modern culture of consumption. In this process, Hansen argues, the cinema might also have provided the conditions of an alternative public sphere for particular social groups, such as recent immigrants and women, by furnishing an intersubjective context in which they could recognize fragments of their own experience. After tracing the emergence of spectatorship as an institution, Hansen pursues the question of reception through detailed readings of a single film, D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), and of the cult surrounding a single star, Rudolph Valentino. In each case the classical construction of spectatorship is complicated by factors of gender and sexuality, crystallizing around the fear and desire of the female consumer. Babel and Babylon recasts the debate on early American cinema--and by implication on American film as a whole. It is a model study in the field of Cinema Studies, mediating the concerns of recent film theory with those of recent film history.
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A Cinema in Search of a Spectator FilmViewer Relations before Hollywood
Early Audiences Myths and Models
Chameleon and Catalyst The Cinema as an Alternative Public Sphere
Babel in Babylon D W Griffiths Intolerance 1916
Reception Textual System and SelfDefinition
A Radiant CrazyQuilt Patterns of Narration and Address
Genesis Causes Concepts of History
Film History Archaeology Universal Language
Riddles of Maternity
Crisis of Femininity Fantasies of Rescue
The Return of Babylon Valentino and Female Spectatorship19211926
Male Star Female Fans
Patterns of Vision Scenarios of Identification
Hieroglyphics Figurations of Writing
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activities acts actually alternative American appeal audiences becomes Biograph films Birth camera character cinema classical concept consumer Cradle critical culture desire diegesis discourse distinct early economy effect emerging especially ethnic exhibition experience Fall fantasy female femininity figure film film's forms function gaze gender genres Griffith hieroglyphic Hollywood identification ideological immigrant individual industrial instance institution Intolerance language later less linked look male mass meaning mobility mode mother motion Movies narration narrative nickelodeon object organization parallel particular period Picture play pleasure popular position production public sphere question reading reception relations remains representation Review screen seems sense sequence sexual shot shows social space specific spectator spectatorship stage standards star story strategies structural Studies style suggests textual theater theory tion tradition turn University Press Valentino vaudeville viewer vision woman women writing York
Page 15 - It cannot be put out of view that the exhibition of moving pictures is a business pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit, like other spectacles, not to be regarded, nor intended to be regarded by the Ohio constitution, we think, as part of the press of the country or as organs of public opinion.