Numerous people have contributed, without necessarily always knowing it, to the development of the ideas that inform this book. My thanks to several generations of students on my Post-Classical Hollywood course at Royal Holloway, University of London, who have helped enormously, often by making me answer – and ask – questions I would not otherwise have considered. My colleagues in the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway have offered extremely helpful feedback and canny insights when various parts of this project have been presented at departmental research seminars. Dr Jacob Leigh read some chapters in draft form and responded in a characteristically helpful and constructive fashion. Part of Chapter 9 was presented as a paper at the 2007 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Philadelphia; my thanks to the conference committee, to the British Academy for the award of an Overseas Conference Grant allowing me to make the trip, and to the audience at the Contemporary Filmmakers panel who responded in such stimulating and challenging ways to my thoughts on Steven Spielberg and the dialectic of spectacle.
The research and writing of the book were supported by the Faculty of Arts at Royal Holloway, which offered an invaluable period of sabbatical leave in 2007, and the Department of Media Arts, who funded a trip to gather research on moviegoing in Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, my warmest thanks to Professor David Stebenne of the Department of History at The Ohio State University for his hospitality; and a particular thanks to David’s graduate student Frank Blazich, who undertook vital long-distance research assistance at a late stage of drafting the book.
At Edinburgh University Press, Sarah Edwards saw the book through the commissioning stage, and Esmé Watson was helpful and – not least – patient as several deadlines came and went without the manuscript arriving. My thanks and I hope it was worth the wait.