Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, May 3, 2001 - Performing Arts - 234 pages
Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth connects the rise of film and the rise of America as a cultural center and twentieth-century world power. Silent film, Paula Cohen reveals, allowed America to sever its literary and linguistic ties to Europe and answer the call by nineteenth-century writers like Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman for an original form of expression compatible with American strengths and weaknesses. When film finally began to talk in 1927, the medium had already done its work. It had helped translate representation into a dynamic visual form and had "Americanized" the world. Cohen explores the way film emerged as an American medium through its synthesis of three basic elements: the body, the landscape, and the face. Nineteenth-century American culture had already charged these elements with meaning--the body through vaudeville and burlesque, landscape through landscape painting and moving panoramas, and the face through portrait photography. Integrating these popular forms, silent film also developed genres that showcased each of its basic elements: the body in comedy, the landscape in the western, and the face in melodrama. At the same time, it helped produce a new idea of character, embodied in the American movie star. Cohen's book offers a fascinating new perspective on American cultural history. It shows how nineteenth-century literature can be said to anticipate twentieth-century film--how Douglas Fairbanks was, in a sense, successor to Walt Whitman. And rather than condemning the culture of celebrity and consumption that early Hollywood helped inspire, the book highlights the creative and democratic features of the silent-film ethos. Just as notable, Cohen champions the concept of the "American myth" in the wake of recent attempts to discredit it. She maintains that American silent film helped consolidate and promote a myth of possibility and self-making that continues to dominate the public imagination and stands behind the best impulses of our contemporary world.
 

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Silent film & the triumph of the American myth

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Veteran cultural critic Cohen (Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism) explores the advent of the silent film, asserting that the early 20th-century medium represented what American society at ... Read full review

Silent film & the triumph of the American myth

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Veteran cultural critic Cohen (Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism) explores the advent of the silent film, asserting that the early 20th-century medium represented what American society at ... Read full review

Contents

A
22
HE CAMERA pans across the towering cliffs of a canyon
72
cr
77
B
108
Valentino unconscious with Agnes Ayres and Adolphe Menjou
128
W
132
Little Mary Americas Sweetheart Photofest
143
F
162
LOUIS B SALOMON
184
FREDERICK LEWIS ALLEN
189
VIVIAN GORNICK
193
Aging
196
ASHLEY MONTAGU
199
The First Peoples of the Americas
202
North and South Before the War
205
A Report on the New Feminism
208

CH
178
NOTES
183
BIBLIOGRAPHY
201
INDEX
211
Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth
228
VT
229
TWENTIETHCENTURY
i
Contents
v
Preface
vii
111
3
12
19
13
36
141
51
51
65
16
83
171
97
18
115
191
130
101
141
111
156
12
173
13
189
14
207
15
223
116
241
17
257
18
273
119
291
Select Bibliography
308
A
325
B
328
Index
331
Oxford University Press
Preface to the Sixth Edition
Preface to the First Edition
A Note to the Student
Contents
What does the mind enjoy in books? Either the
2
In the broadest sense all writing is about yourself
3
Portrait of Himself
10
Why I Went to the Woods
17
From The Cruise of the Snark
20
Age
28
ANNIE DILLARD
31
RUSSELL BAKER
39
Once More to the Lake
45
Essentially the description of character is no different from the
55
The Penurious Man and The Coward
58
MORRIS BISHOP
63
The Working Class
68
Rona and Me
72
WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY
77
Maria Insull
80
Mussolini
84
Description
95
Bubbles in the Ice
98
The Congo
102
Smoke
106
Tourists
109
The Subway
114
Potters Field
120
People and The Church
126
The Button Factory
130
Narration
135
JEREMY CAMPBELL
137
ROBERT CARSE
141
Crossing a River
148
A Glimpse of Wars Hell Scenes
153
JAMES THURBER
157
Short Trip
163
Exposition
169
Patterns
172
ROGER REVELLE
173
Truth in the Mass Media
177
ETHEL STRAINCHAMPS
181
Bringing Up Children
212
Retirement
216
The Dissertation and the Mime
219
Why I Write
224
BERTRAND RUSSELL
227
The Evil of My Tale
230
MARVIN HARRIS
235
The Technological Revolution
240
Los Angeles Notebook
244
The Imperial Legion
250
The Religion of Black Folk
256
Writing to Define
261
LEO ROSTEN
267
Some Football Terms
276
Maps
280
E M FORSTER
283
Evil
288
DWIGHT MACDONALD
291
W H AUDEN
297
Thus far we have been concerned with problems of explaining
307
General George Armstrong Custer
314
FRANCIS BACON
319
Against Education
324
DOROTHY L SAYERS
329
Confessions of a Female Chauvinist Sow
334
JANE BRYANT QUINN
343
GEORGE F WILL
355
The Iks
360
From The Annual Message to Congress
366
CARL SAGAN
373
The Golf Ball on the Grass
377
HARRY F HARLOW
383
trans by Ishtar Kettaneh
389
trans by Benjamin Jowett
394
The Third Knights Speech
399
JONATHAN SWIFT
405
W J B
418
THUCYDIDES
427
On Receiving the Nobel Prize
436
The Search for Marvin Gardens
440
The British essayist Hilaire Bellocwho knew if
457
BRAND BLANSHARD
462
Beginning of Quick Lives and Quirky Changes
466
General John Bell Hood
470
The American Personality
474
RACHEL CARSON
481
Closings
485
DYLAN THOMAS
487
CARL SAGAN
491
From A Womans Role
495
From Plato
498
Writing about Literature
501
DONALD SPOTO
503
ARTHUR ASA BERGER
507
Who Killed King Kong?
518
GUY DAVENPORT
525
JOHN CIARDI
531
MAYNARD MACK
544
A Nun a Girl and Gerard Manley Hopkins
566
FLANNERY OCONNOR
571
G K CHESTERTON
585
A Closer Look
593
Young Joan
601
The Evolutionary Appetite
606
The Hedonistic Theory of Economics
610
F L LUCAS
615
VIRGINIA WOOLF
619
EUDORA WELTY
625
MARK VAN DOREN
632
On The Scarlet Letter
636
ERNEST HEMINGWAY
641
Household Apples
644
DYLAN THOMAS
649
This glossary offers brief definitions of those grammatical and rhetorical
653
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About the author (2001)

Paula Marantz Cohen is Professor of Humanities and Director of the Literature Program at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her books include Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism and The Daughter's Dilemma: Family Process and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel.

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