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Early Cinema and the "National"

Early Cinema and the "National"

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Early Cinema and the "National"

Edited by: Richard Abel, Giorgio Bertellini, Rob King

Publication date: 2008
Total pages: 344 + viii
ISBN: 9780861966899
Price: £ 20.00


When, where, and how did motion pictures become a national phenomenon or part and parcel of a national culture? What conceptions of nation were bound up with early cinema? Is early cinema best understood in global or transnational terms? While many studies have been written on national cinemas, Early Cinema and the “National” is the first anthology to focus on the concept of national film culture from a wide methodological spectrum of interests, including not only visual and narrative forms but also international geopolitics, exhibition and marketing practices (both local and global), and pressing linkages to national imageries.

The essays in this richly illustrated, landmark anthology are all devoted to rethinking the nation as a framing category for writing cinema history. As many of the thirty-four contributors show, concepts of national identity played a role in establishing many of the parameters of cinema’s early development, from technological change to discourses of stardom, from emerging genres to intertitling practices. Yet, as others attest, national meanings could often become knotty in other contexts, when concepts of nationhood were contested in relation to colonial/imperial histories and regional configurations.

The relationship between cinema and the concept of nation has been challenged by muli-national capitalism, and Early Cinema and the “National” takes stock of an earlier moment in cinema history, tracing the beginnings of the process whereby nations learned to imagine themselves through moving images.


Contributors include Jonathan Auerbach, Jennifer Bean, Marta Braun, Ian Christie, Frank Gray, Tom Gunning, Charlie Keil, Frank Kessler, David Mayer, Dominique Nasta, Panivong Norindr, Charles O’Brien, and Greg Waller.


Richard Abel is Robert Altman Collegiate Professor of Film Studies in the Department of Screen Arts & Culture at the University of Michigan.

Giorgio Bertellini is Assistant Professor in the Department of Screen Arts & Cultures and Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan.

Rob King is assistant professor in the Cinema Studies Program and Department of History at the University of Toronto.

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