On Frieda Klug, Pearl White, and Other Traveling Women Film Pioneers

By Dall'Asta, Monica | Framework, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

On Frieda Klug, Pearl White, and Other Traveling Women Film Pioneers


Dall'Asta, Monica, Framework


When I was invited to reflect on the significance of the now emerging category of "transnationalism"1 for the practice of women's film historiography, I found myself wondering: are the processes of transnational mobility and transcultural relations somehow specific to the experience of early women filmmakers? Is there any particular reason why feminist film history should pay special attention to those aspects and be actively involved in the process of a transnational reconfiguration of film studies?

I find the ambivalence of this question extremely stimulating. Obviously one cannot state that women working in the international silent film industries were more prone to travel for professional opportunities than their male colleagues. This would be clearly false, since we know how important international mobility was in the silent cinema professions on the whole, causing waves of migration from country to country, throughout Europe, and from Europe to the United States, as well as from other countries, including parts of Asia, Australia, and South America. Yet at the same time we all sense, as it were, that a transnational perspective is as urgent, and even as inescapable for women's film history, as ever. So how can we begin to make sense of this paradox?

A few characteristic feminist film history methods may be useful here. First, I would like to mention the deliberate biographical approach that the Women Film Pioneers Project has adopted since its inception.2 Of course, the international imbrication of industrial and economic practices is an obvious aspect of film history, one that could be analyzed even in a non-gendered context, as indeed it has been done repeatedly. And yet, to introduce women's biographies into the frame does not mean simply to add more or less significant details to an already established picture. Rather, it has the power to dramatically change the coordinates themselves and produce a discursive move from merely an "objective" level of economic or industrial history to a social history in which even subjective experiences can be comprehended, researched, and understood, to the extent that they are not exclusively subjective and are instead co-formed (to use Laura Doyle's phrase) within a wider context of social, as well as cultural and economic, interactions.3 Second, another crucial characteristic of feminist film historiography is the way in which it has chosen deliberately to focus not on "authors," the great masters of the cinematographic art and their masterpieces, but rather on more or less ordinary professional figures.4 Again, this is not a mere adjustment but a real paradigmatic change, resulting in a new attention to people considered to be in negligible, unimportant, and marginal roles and practices. In this, feminist film history aligns itself with the assumptions of the post-Brighton wave of historical research, although with a greater emphasis on the recovery of neglected biographies. In fact, even if it's not difficult to recognize the major role that such figures as the screenwriters, producers, film critics, distributors, and so on have played in the process of both cultural and industrial transnationalization, the room that canonical film history has allowed for their achievements is nonetheless very small. So it appears that (once more) feminist studies (here specified as feminist film historical studies) find itself positioned at a particularly advanced point in methodological terms, showing how the inclusion of such apparently unheroic professional figures can also be extremely valuable for non-exclusively women-oriented versions of cinema's histories.

Let's take the case of distribution. Though the international success attained by the Italian epic genre during the 1910s is a familiar topic in national film histories, until recently very few documents had been made available that could shed light on the (trans)cultural, industrial, and commercial roots of such phenomenon. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

On Frieda Klug, Pearl White, and Other Traveling Women Film Pioneers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.