Academic journal article Film & History

Editor's Introduction

Academic journal article Film & History

Editor's Introduction

Article excerpt

The articles in this issue address nearly a century of American culture on film, treating the early years of cinematic identity (Phil Wagner), the middle years of World War Il turned into novel and then into modern film (Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk), the post-war consolidations of minority and mainstream history (Michael Ray Fitzgerald), the later years of corporate and national swagger (Paul Cohen), and the global present-past of digital knowledge (D. L LeMahieu). No theme for this issue existed before, or even directly after, these papers were accepted. (Indeed, the essay by Paul Cohen was accepted well before he was named Book Reviews Editor of this journal.) But we got lucky. Five excellent manuscripts emerged from the stacks of submissions, and they formed an idea, which was also a question, which became this issue's title: "The Last American Century."

The twentieth century has been called the "American" century for many reasons, and pundits on television and in print have wondered if the twentyfirst century will also be "American." Some people, bemoaning what they view as America's decline, want to see the empire continue into greater glory. Others are glad it might all be over. But what is the "it"? The pun in this issue's title encourages us to pause our interpretations of "America": when we speculate about what a nation will become, we are speculating, as well, about what that nation has been, about what new shape it will assume as it evolves from an older shape we think we understand. …

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