Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space

Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space

Edited by Jennifer M Bean, Anupama P Kapse and Laura Evelyn Horak
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/02/2014
Format: Paperback 55 b&w illus., 1 table
ISBN: 978-0-253-01230-2
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


Winner, 2015 SCMS Best Edited Collection Award

In this cross-cultural history of narrative cinema and media from the 1910s to the 1930s, leading and emergent scholars explore the transnational crossings and exchanges that occurred in early cinema between the two world wars. Drawing on film archives from around the world, this volume advances the premise that silent cinema freely crossed national borders and linguistic thresholds in ways that became far less possible after the emergence of sound. These essays address important questions about the uneven forces–geographic, economic, political, psychological, textual, and experiential–that underscore a non-linear approach to film history. The "messiness" of film history, as demonstrated here, opens a new realm of inquiry into unexpected political, social, and aesthetic crossings of silent cinema.

Author Bio

Jennifer M. Bean is Director of Cinema and Media Studies and Associate Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. She is co-editor of Flickers of Desire: Movie Stars of the 1910s.

Anupama Kapse is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies, Queens College, CUNY. Her articles have appeared in Framework and Figurations in Indian Film.

Laura Horak is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. Her writings have appeared in Camera Obscura, Cinema Journal, and Film Quarterly.


“A rich source of new theoretical horizons derived from studies of silent era cinema. In the collection Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space, we begin to see the great global mix-up produced by motion picture import and export--mixed-up geographies and genders, languages and meanings--all the cultural disjuncture and displacement as well as dispersals of film versions that traditional world film histories completely overlooked.”
 — Jane M. Gaines, Columbia University

“Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space makes a very important contribution to scholarship on not only silent cinema but also cross-cultural media studies more generally. Indeed, it is equally useful to scholars working on the contemporary circulation of media across borders, establishing either a precedent for or a counterpoint to later transnational media flows, from television to new media forms.”
 — Richard Abel, University of Michigan

“This volume brings together much new and exciting scholarship on silent cinema. It is a timely and important scholarly intervention that foregrounds several promising new methodologies for examining space, place, and their relative displacements.”
 — Matthew Solomon, University of Michigan

“Bean, Kapse, and Horak's collection promises to play a crucial role in the reconfiguration of silent film history, encouraging historians to take an approach that is less strictly linear, that pays attention to the margins and the films and film cultures that exist at the periphery.”
 — Canadian Journal of Film Studies

 — Choice

“All in all, this is a truly commendable volume that again demonstrates the richness of silent cinema culture, and challenges us to rethink how this period can be researched. it also opens our eyes anew to how audiences can experience this amazing art form.”
 — Scandinavian Studies

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Introduction / Jennifer M. Bean
Part I. Picturing Space
Introduction / Anupama Kapse
1. Location, "Location": On the Plausibility of Place Substitution / Mark B. Sandberg
2. Insurgent Place as Visual Space: Location Shots and Rival Geographies of 1857 Lucknow / Priya Jaikumar,
Part II. Prints in Motion
Introduction / Jennifer M. Bean
3. Robespierre Has Been Lost: D. W. Griffith’s Movies and the Soviet Twenties / Yuri Tsivian
4. An Afterlife for Junk Prints: Serials and Other "Classics" in Late-1920s Tehran / Kaveh Askari
5. Translations and Transportation: Toward a Transnational History of the Intertitle / Laura Isabel Serna
Part III: Impertinent Appropriations
Introduction / Anupama Kapse
6. From "Misemono" to Zigomar: A Discursive History of Early Japanese Cinema / Aaron Gerow
7. The Crisscrossed Stare: Chinese Protest and Propaganda in the Not-So-Silent Era / Yiman Wang
8. Around the World in 80 Minutes: Douglas Fairbanks and the Indian Stunt Film / Anupama Kapse
Part IV: Cosmopolitan Sexualities and Female Stars
Introduction / Jennifer M. Bean
9. National Soul/Cosmopolitan Skin: Swedish Cinema at a Crossroads / Jan Olsson
10. Queer Crossings: Greta Garbo, National Identity, and Gender Deviance / Laura Horak
11. Cosmopolitan Women: Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl / Patrice Petro

Related Titles