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Useful Cinema [Hardcover]

Joseph Clark , Charles R. Acland , Haidee Wasson

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Book Description

25 Jan 2012
By exploring the use of film in mid-twentieth-century institutions, including libraries, museums, classrooms, and professional organizations, the essays in Useful Cinema show how moving images became an ordinary feature of American life. In venues such as factories and community halls, people encountered industrial, educational, training, advertising, and other types of "useful cinema." Screening these films transformed unlikely spaces, conveyed ideas, and produced subjects in the service of public and private aims. Such functional motion pictures helped to shape common sense about cinema's place in contemporary life. Whether measured in terms of the number of films shown, the size of audiences, or the economic activity generated, the "non-theatrical sector" was a substantial and enduring parallel to the more spectacular realm of commercial film. In Useful Cinema, scholars examine organizations such as UNESCO, the YMCA, the Amateur Cinema League, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They also consider film exhibition sites in schools, businesses, and industries. As they expand understanding of this other American cinema, the contributors challenge preconceived notions about what cinema is. Contributors: Charles R. Acland, Joseph Clark, Zoe Druick, Ronald Walter Greene, Alison Griffiths, Stephen Groening, Jennifer Horne, Kirsten Ostherr, Eric Smoodin, Charles Tepperman, Gregory A. Waller, Haidee Wasson, Michael Zryd

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Review

"Often, in common understanding, education is seen as opposed to entertainment. But this rich and fascinating volume puts the lie to such assumption both by showing how, across the decades, 'useful' cinema was measured in relation to Hollywood entertainment and indeed interacted with it in complex fashion and by doing so through essays that are themselves compelling and captivating, eloquent and enjoyable. It is itself, in other words, a masterful blend of the entertaining and the useful." - Dana Polan, New York University "This valuable book reveals how moving images proliferated beyond the spectacular confines of theaters to become deeply embedded in everyday life, cultures and institutions. The publication of this fascinating anthology is a welcome sign that cinema history is starting to forgo its longtime fascination with mass-produced glamour and making peace with its most utilitarian (and numerically dominant) genres." - Rick Prelinger, founder of Prelinger Archives "Useful Cinema begins on the perfect point, with the observation that films today 'appear everywhere', from 'iPhone to Imax, from blog inserts to Jumbotrons', so 'becoming integral to our experience of institutional and everyday life'. Thus the histories of the older cultural forms to be found in this interesting anthology are pitched not merely as worthwhile objects of rediscovery in their own right but also as enlightening precursors of the media surrounding and saturating the lives of modern readers...Useful Cinema can confidently be recommended to anyone interested in the intricacies of the relationship between the media and the society of the 20th century - and those of the 21st." Patrick Russell, Reviews in History

About the Author

Charles R. Acland is Professor and Concordia University Research Chair in Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of "Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes, and Global Culture," also published by Duke University Press, and the editor of "Residual Media."Haidee Wasson is Associate Professor in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University. She is the author of "Museum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema" and a co-editor of "Inventing Film Studies," also published by Duke University Press.

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