Contemporary American Cinema

Contemporary American Cinema

Contemporary American Cinema

Contemporary American Cinema


The first complete study of mainstream and nontraditional film since 1960

Indispensable to film students and general readers interested in this art form, Contemporary American Cinema culls together the writings of the world's leading film scholars to provide the first comprehensive introduction to postclassical American film. Heavily illustrated with more than 50 color and black-and-white stills, it takes a close look at all aspects of the genre, including influential movies, directors, producers, and actors.

This unique and accessible resource includes two Tables of Contents, allowing readers to research chronologically or thematically. In addition, it includes a glossary of important terms, suggestions for further reading, sample essay questions, and a filmography. Subjects include:

  • Decline of the early studio system
  • Rise of American new-wave cinema
  • Parallel histories of independent and underground cinema
  • Black cinema--from the "blaxploitation" era of the 1970s to the 1990s
  • Full history of the American blockbuster
  • Uses and effects of new film making technologies
  • America's ever-changing audiences
  • Key genres and industry statistics


We have organized this book so that it will work for a range of different readers and their research requirements. We wanted to commission a set of essays that would present a cutting-edge overview of ways of looking at American cinema since the 1960s and would combine established models with new ways of thinking through histories and debates. We approached some of the best film writers and academics in the world for pieces anchored in their specialist interests, asking them to update established work to account for recent research. The result was a series of first-class essays written in lucid prose, which combined a good overview of the primary terrain with some acute critical questions. In this sense, the book stands as a collection of important new essays and shorter pieces on the history of US cinema since 1960. We hope that if you are already an established scholar in any of the fields we cover in this book, you will find in these essays some fresh thinking and provocative ways of approaching your area of interest.

We also wanted to commission a book that has an active role in pedagogic debates. We believe very strongly that the best research must have a place in students' lives and scholars' writing. This book presents that research in a number of ways, and we hope that the lively presentation and verbal accessibility that characterize our collection will aid its journey into the classroom. Firstly, and most obviously, we have organized this material chronologically. Decades are, of course, an arbitrary and often misleading means of dividing up movements and histories, but Western media culture still persists in thinking in ten-year blocks, so – perhaps if only for reasons of editorial sanity – we saw this as a clear, if flawed, framework. However, all frameworks must be ready to be twisted out of shape. Ours are broken open at a number of points: an essay that we might have placed in one particular decade's section might also contain material pertinent to an adjacent period. In fact, we actively encouraged this “bleeding” of issues across decade boundaries. Steve Neale's essay, for instance, could have been placed in the 1970s section, raising questions, as it does, about the accuracy of the critical construction of the “Hollywood Renaissance” as an all-too-narrow “window” of challenging films and visionary auteurs during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Filmmakers do not obey the strictures of ten-year boxes, and neither did our writers.

We also wanted the book to offer information in a variety of formats to suit different needs. The longer essays will give more detailed insights into historical, theoretical and critical issues; they have the space to make more extensive connections between ideas, films, filmmakers and movements. These work as part of the temporal . . .

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