Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing

Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing

Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing

Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing

Synopsis

Hollywood in the Neighborhood presents a vivid new picture of how movies entered the American heartland--the thousands of smaller cities, towns, and villages far from the East and West Coast film centers. Using a broad range of research sources, essays from scholars including Richard Abel, Robert Allen, Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, Terry Lindvall, and Greg Waller examine in detail the social and cultural changes this new form of entertainment brought to towns from Gastonia, North Carolina to Placerville, California, and from Norfolk, Virginia to rural Ontario and beyond. Emphasizing the roles of local exhibitors, neighborhood audiences, regional cultures, and the growing national mass media, their essays chart how motion pictures so quickly and successfully moved into old opera houses and glittering new picture palaces on Main Streets across America.

Excerpt

Variously termed the new film history, film exhibition history, moviegoing history, local film history, historical reception studies, audience history, or the cultural and social context of moviegoing, innovative approaches to cinema history are some of the most vibrant and exciting aspects of media studies done in the past twenty years. These new research initiatives move outward from a primary focus on films as texts toward considerations of the contexts of their production, distribution, exhibition, and reception by viewers in particular times and spaces and more broadly to analyze the many meanings motion pictures assumed in popular culture and the social practice of moviegoing in everyday life.

Moviegoing history research is characterized by close, detailed studies of specific places, people, and chronologies. It is found at the juncture of several methodological and ideological issues—at intersections of traditional cinema studies with more data-driven research methods such as history, economics, social sciences, and history of readers in literary studies; at intersections of national and international contexts of production with local contexts of consumption; at intersections of modernity and tradition; and at intersections of the culture of the cosmopolitan urban center with the culture experienced by the small-town (and more homogeneous) rural hinterlands. It is also at the intersections of the persuasive power of movie producers, exhibitors, and film texts with the ability of viewers to make their own sets of meanings from the movies they watched. There should be room in moviegoing history for grand theories as well as specific factual evidence, of psychologically determined viewing positions as well as historically situated, specific audience members, and of examination of reaction to specific films as well as of the practice of moviegoing in which habitual attendance at a theater or exhibition space outweighed the impact of any particular film shown.

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