Shelley Stamp Wins Prize for Work in Media and History from IAMHIST

Shelley Stamp’s acclaimed book, Lois Weber in Early Hollywood, recently won the juried 2017 Michael Nelson Prize from the International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST).

The prize is awarded biennially to the book “making the best contribution on the subject of media and history “, and the names of the winners will be published in the association’s Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television as well as displayed in the universities of teaching members of IAMHIST.

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood is an essential addition to histories of silent cinema, early filmmaking in Los Angeles, and women’s contributions to American culture.”—IAMHIST 2017

Congratulations to Shelley for this recognition—she will be accepting the prize at the 2017 IAMHIST conference in Paris.


Shelley Stamp is author of Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon; coeditor of American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices; and founding editor of Feminist Media Histories: An International Journal. She is Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she is also editor of Feminist Media Histories, published by UC Press.


What is the future of media art?

This post is part of a blog series celebrating the College Art Association annual conference taking place in New York City from February 15–18. Please visit us at Booth 605 if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our new and forthcoming Art books.


by Hanna Hölling, author of Paik’s Virtual Archive: Time, Change, and Materiality in Media Art

“In the future, the only artwork that will survive will have no gravity at all” maintained Nam June Paik, the acclaimed father of video art, in1980. He speculated that the art of the future, once liberated from the gravity of its material, will lack a “preservable” aspect. Paik’s prophetic statement seems to reflect the reality confronted by the many institutions collecting, displaying and preserving media. But how to grapple with well-rooted paradigms of material authenticity that for centuries embodied the artwork’s value? Or, in other words, what is the future of media art?

Media artworks based on film, video and computer code that incorporate playback and display technology confront us with the vulnerability and instability of their physical carriers and visual contents. Being in the process of continuous reinterpretation, rescription, and remediation, these artworks move between formats and platforms, seemingly unconcerned with the gravity of their physical carriers—the vehicles, as it were, of the artistic concept, a floating synthesis of the artist’s mind and the minds of all actors engaged in the work’s genesis. Media artworks—hybrid combinations of display and playback technologies— differ from traditional media such as painting and sculpture by not conforming to the traditional collecting, archiving and musealization processes. Changeable by nature, these works question the established views considering what an artwork is, or might be, what is being exhibited and preserved, and what enters the realm of cultural memory.

The future of ever-expanding digital memory comes upon us, an immortalization gesture of sorts, directed against forgetting and oblivion. The digital cloud, multi-nodal, networked internet, and the web-based platforms have already commenced generating—and forced us to get accustomed to—a multiplicity of artworks’ versions, variations, and clones. They lack reference to any of the familiar object-based (or objectified) strategies that for decades formed theories of traditional museum and conservation. In this new world, how can we ensure these works’ existence without fixing them in time and forcing them into the straightjacket of physical preservation? How can we avoid arresting them in time and simultaneously ensure their survival?

Nam June Paik’s legacy in the history of twentieth-century art rests on his introduction of the television and video as artistic media in the 1960s. His oeuvre encompasses global communication systems and combines elements of obsolescence and chance with the most sophisticated technical solutions of his time. At the time of this writing, only a few works by Paik remained in their original form and condition, and almost none of Paik’s works that still function are displayed with their original playback equipment.

It is, therefore, surprising that there was no major examination of the issues of the continuity of his media to date. Paik’s Virtual Archive strives to fill this gap. But rather than being a contestation with what is left there to be preserved, it encourages the reader to reflect on the preservation’s alternative futures and on the nature of the artworks (following the premise that to conserve an artwork signifies first and foremost to understand what it is). Paik’s Virtual Archive explores the way in which materiality can be conceived on the basis of the archive as inherently social and temporal construct: social because created in a network of people who collaborated with Paik on the creation, presentation, archiving and perpetuation of his artworks; temporal, because the kind of change his artworks experience is always bound with time—with its index manifest in the processes of decay and obsolescence and with the time of the artwork, its duration.


Hanna B. Hölling is Lecturer in the History of Art and Material Studies at the Department of History of Art, University College London. She was Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor, Cultures of Conservation, at the Bard Graduate Center in New York and Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She teaches material culture, cultures of conservation, and postwar art history. Among her many publications is Revisions—Zen for Film.

Read reviews for Paik’s Virtual Archive, which released this week.


Society for Cinema Studies Recognizes UC Press Titles in 2017 Book Awards

When the Society for Cinema and Media Studies announced their 2017 award winners, we were honored and proud to see three books from UC Press in the mix.

Hearty congratulations to our team of talented authors and editors for this esteemed recognition, along with all the other winners from fellow university presses.

BEST EDITED COLLECTION

9780520284685Winner: L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema

Edited by Allyson Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart

“. . . a groundbreaking and highly readable compendium focused on the kaleidoscopic network of filmmakers based at UCLA between the 1960s and the 1990s. The collection opens up previously obscured historical pathways that deepen our knowledge of black American cinema, and should inspire further research and scholarship.”—Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards

 

 

9780520219083Award of Distinction: The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907-1933

Edited by Anton Kaes, Nicholas Baer, and Michael Cowan

“A treasure trove of insights and ideas, this book uncovers the excitement cinema generated as the art form of modernity. Film studies may take years to digest the richness this volume contains—and I believe it will never be quite the same afterward.” —Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity

 

 

BEST FIRST BOOK AWARD

9780520279773Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood

By Miriam J. Petty

 

“[Miriam Petty’s] ambitious book places Stepin’ Fetchit (the persona of Lincoln Perry) in a new light, and all of her subjects in high relief… [a] fine book.” —Carrie Rickey, Film Quarterly

 

 

If you are attending the annual conference in Chicago this year, please join in for the Awards Ceremony to celebrate their outstanding achievements!


Must-read articles for LGBTQ History Month

In celebration of LGBTQ History Month this October, enjoy free access to articles from Feminist Media Histories, a journal that examines the role gender has played in media technologies across a range of historical periods and global contexts. These must-read articles will be freely available throughout the month of October.


"Poster for Club de femmes (1936)." (From article)
Poster for Club de femmes (1936). (From article)

Proto-Queer Media Criticism: “Cinema Ramblings” from an RKO Secretary
Candace Moore
(Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 2014)

Lisa Ben’s “Cinema Ramblings” in the 1940s underground publication Vice Versa mark some of the first media reviews to focus on homosexual themes, representations, and subtexts from a self-proclaimed lesbian perspective. While still largely unknown, the critical lenses and stylistic methods she employed set a precedent for the kind of radical queer media criticism that reviewers engage in today.

Mod Pop Methods: This Year’s Girl
Quinlan Miller
(Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 2014)

This article reconstructs queer popular culture as a way of exploring media production studies as a trans history project. Miller argues that queer and trans insights into gender are indispensable to feminist media studies. The article looks at The Ugliest Girl in Town series (ABC, 1968–69), a satire amplifying a purported real-life fad in flat chests, short haircuts, and mod wigs, to restore texture to the everyday landscape of popular entertainment.

"Figure 5. FIGURE 5 11, 3, 5, 9, Lesbians are mighty fine' in Home Movie." (From article)
“11, 3, 5, 9, Lesbians are mighty fine” in Home Movie (1972). (From article)

Lesbian Feminist Cinema’s Archive and Moonforce Media’s National Women’s Film Circuit
Roxanne Samer
(Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 2015)

This essay offers a microhistory of the feminist film distributor Moonforce Media. Between 1975 and 1980, Moonforce Media built the National Women’s Film Circuit, a lesbian feminist distribution system that circulated preconstituted packages of multigeneric feminist films through as wide a nontheatrical feminist U.S. market as possible.

“Feeling-Images”: Montage, Body, and Historical Memory in Barbara Hammer’s Nitrate Kisses
Alessandra Chiarini
(Vol. 2, No. 3, Summer 2016)

This essay investigates the ways in which Barbara Hammer’s film Nitrate Kisses (1992) traces stories about homosexuality throughout the twentieth century. Inspired both by the concept of “vertical cinema,” as theorized by Maya Deren, and by the historical-philosophical reflections of Michel Foucault and Walter Benjamin, Hammer realizes a montage process in Nitrate Kisses that resurrects a forgotten historical memory through the juxtaposition of archival materials and original images. It is a memory that is reappropriated through the film as an experiential, tactile, and emotional moment.


1.cover-source-1Want more free articles from Feminist Media Histories? Follow FMH on Facebook and Twitter for free weekly downloads from the latest issue.


50th Anniversary of Star Trek, the “Television Show”

By Roberta Pearson and Máire Messenger Davies, authors of Star Trek and American Television

‘It’s a television show’—said William Shatner (Captain Kirk) to us when we interviewed him for our book, Star Trek and American Television, in 2002. He didn’t mean to be dismissive, he didn’t mean it was just a television show; he was pointing out that Star Trek—despite the movies, the games, the fans, the spoofs—was, and is, primarily culturally important as a product of television. It’s worth being reminded of this fact especially this year—the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the original series (TOS) being launched on the NBC TV network.

9780520276222

We love Star Trek—but it’s always been the TV show that was most special to us, both as viewers and as scholars. That’s why, when it came to writing a book about Star Trek, we decided to take Bill Shatner’s assertion as our mantra and named our book Star Trek and American Television. At first we thought of simply calling it Star Trek as Television. But as we researched the history of the show—and especially after talking to many of its leading lights, including founder-producers such as Robert Justman and Herb Solow, (alas, Gene Roddenberry was dead by the time we got round to researching the book)—we realized that the story of Star Trek was also a way of telling the story of American television more broadly.

The show started in the era of the three networks, made by a production company run by one of the most iconic and beloved of all TV stars, Lucille Ball, and it was not a ratings success. But, prophetically, it found a dedicated audience of fans who helped to keep the show alive in syndication. In the 1980s and 90s, with The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, it progressed through the cable era, and on into the era of channel abundance brought about by digital technology. Along the way, it changed ownership several times, and ironically, it is now the property of CBS, who turned the original series down in the 1960s. Simply following the twists and turns of fortune involving the show’s ownership was a story in itself—as the early chapters of our book discuss.

It was a great privilege to talk to so many of the people involved in the show. We had especially privileged access to the stars of The Next Generation who were making the final film in the TNG series, Nemesis, when we did our Hollywood research. Thanks to introductions from Sir Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean Luc Picard in TNG, who kindly wrote a foreword for our book, we were able to talk to actors, producers, technicians, set builders, designers, makeup artists, writers, and directors—all of whom had fascinating insights into the series, into their own particular roles in it, and into why the Star Trek phenomenon has been so enduringly popular. Generous interviews given by stars such as Sir Patrick himself, Jonathan Frakes, William Shatner and Marina Sirtis are extensively quoted in our book.

The last TV series, Enterprise, had just started production when we visited Hollywood to meet these Star Trek luminaries, and it was cancelled after only four seasons. It seemed as if the future of Star Trek had to be in the new film series directed by J. J. Abrams and that its primary identity as television was over. But Star Trek as television was never going to die; all the previous series continue in syndication around the world—and a new TV series, Star Trek: Discovery, will premiere on CBS in January, 2017*. As we say at the end of our book: “Whatever happens in the future, we would bet all our gold-pressed latinum, several bottles of Saurian brandy and a few dilithium crystals that Star Trek will live long and prosper!”


* Note that you can currently stream a few free episodes from each Star Trek television series in honor of the anniversary and upcoming new series.

To get a copy of Star Trek and American Television, visit your local bookstore, or purchase online at IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on ucpress.edu, enter discount code16M4197 at checkout).


Roberta Pearson is Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham and author of several books, including A Critical Dictionary of Film and Television Theory.

Máire Messenger Davies is Professor Emerita of Media Studies at University of Ulster and author of Children, Media, and Culture.


Recognition from the Theatre Library Association

UC Press is proud to have been recognized by the Theatre Library Association‘s 2015 Book Awards.

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood by Shelley Stamp was awarded a Special Jury Prize for the 2015 Richard Wall Award, for an exemplary work in the field of recorded performance.

In order to distinguish the Theatre Library Association’s awards from other associations that focus on theoretical scholarship, jurors are asked to nominate only those books that provide evidentiary examples of an author’s use and interpretation of library/archival materials to support his/her topic. Library materials should be interpreted to mean any resources that libraries acquire—films, manuscripts, books, journals, reference books/databases, archives of ephemeral materials (e.g., newspapers, design sketches, playbills, posters)—in either their original format or in digital or other reproductions. As an association committed to furthering the advancement of archivists and librarians, as well as highlighting the diverse collections we maintain, the focus of TLA’s awards is on shining a light on the profession and the collections they make accessible and preserve.

Additionally, Menus for Movieland: Newspapers and the Emergence of Film Culture, 1913–1916, was a finalist for the 2015 Wall Award.

Congratulations to all the nominees and award-winners—we’re thrilled to be in such good company.


A Comic-Con Reading List

Whether you’ll be joining the feverish thousands in person or not, in honor of Day 1 of Comic-Con 2016, we’ve rounded up some suggested reading for our pop culture fans, comic book lovers, and monster and other creature geeks.

Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books

Attendees will have two chances to hear author Michael Barrier speak this year. Join a discussion on ‘Walt Kelly and POGO’ from 12:30–1:30 PM on Friday or go to the ‘Spotlight on Michael Barrier’ on Friday evening where he will talk about the challenges and rewards of pursuing an interest in comic books that bypasses superheroes in favor of artists like Carl Barks, Walt Kelly, and John Stanley. Randy Duncan (author of The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture) will moderate this Q&A session, which will followed by an autograph session from 5:30–6:30 PM in the Sails Pavilion.

Hellboy’s World: Comics and Monsters on the Margins

Despite Mike Mingola’s recent release of the final issue of Hellboy, you can still immerse yourself in the aesthetic world and “adventure of reading” with Scott Bukatman‘s delightfully beautiful volume. With positive reviews from Henry Jenkins on ‘Confessions of an Aca-Fan‘, The Comics Journal, and Junot Díaz, you don’t have to just take our word for how great this book is.

Star Trek and American Television

With a foreword by Sir Patrick Stewart, and taking their cue from the words of the program’s first captain, William Shatner, in an interview with the authors: “It’s a television show.”, this book returns to the heart of one of the most successful transmedia franchises of all time: the initially unsuccessful 1960s television production, Star Trek: The Original Series.

Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds

Listen to author Joseph Laycock talk about ‘The Satanic Panic & Role Playing Games’ on an episode of MonsterTalk, then jump into his book which makes “a much-needed contribution to the understanding of the human need and capacity for creating and inhabiting multiple realities.”

Pixar and the Aesthetic Imagination: Animation, Storytelling, and Digital Culture

Eric Herhuth draws upon film theory, animation theory, and philosophy to examine modes of animation storytelling that address aesthetic experience within contexts of technological, environmental, and socio-cultural change. This forthcoming book considers Pixar’s artificial worlds and transformational stories as opportunities for thinking through aesthetics as a contested domain committed to newness and innovation, as well as criticism and pluralistic thought.

Krazy!: The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art

“What’s interesting about Krazy! is that it explores these art forms and presents them in a way in that forces the reader to never look at anime, manga, or video games in the same way again. . . . With bold, beautiful full-colored pictures. . . . Embrace the kraziness.”—Pop Matters


Stop by the on-site Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at Comic-Con, or save 30% on all UC Press Animation titles with discount code 16M4197 (enter code at checkout).


Introducing Making Roots

By Matthew F. Delmont, author of The Nicest Kids in Town, Why Busing Failed, and Making Roots

When Alex Haley’s book Roots was published by Doubleday in 1976 it became an immediate bestseller. The television series, broadcast by ABC in 1977, became the most popular miniseries of all time, captivating over a hundred million Americans. As a scholar of popular culture and African American history I wanted to research and write this book because we know remarkably little about one of the most recognizable cultural productions of all time. One could fill a shelf with books on recent critically lauded television shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men, but Making Roots: A Nation Captivated is the first book length study of this unprecedented cultural phenomenon.

Alex Haley and his collaborators left a fascinating paper trail that shows, sometimes on a day-by-day basis, how Roots took shape from the early 1960s through the late 1970s. In researching Making Roots I examined tens of thousands of pages of Haley’s letters, notes, and manuscript drafts in the collections housed at the University of Tennessee, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Goodwin College. At the University of Southern California, the archived papers of David Wolper and Stan Margulies offer similar insights into how these television producers adapted Haley’s story for the screen. In Making Roots, I foreground the voices and perspectives of the people who played a role in creating Roots: Haley, literary agent Paul Reynolds, Doubleday editors Ken McCormick and Lisa Drew, Haley’s editor Murray Fisher, Wolper, Margulies, screenwriter Bill Blinn, and actors like LeVar Burton, John Amos, and Leslie Uggams.

Alex Haley never published another book after Roots. He loved talking to people but found himself overwhelmed by the praise, criticism, and legal troubles Roots generated. “He made history talk,” Jesse Jackson said of Alex Haley at the author’s funeral in 1992. “He lit up the long night of slavery. He gave our grandparents personhood. He gave Roots to the rootless.” In this light, pointing out the flaws in Haley’s family history feels like telling your grandmother she is lying. Fortunately, Haley’s fabrications are only a small part of a much larger, more interesting, and more complicated story of the making of Roots. Making Roots tells that story.


Coming 8/2/16: Making Roots: A Nation Captivated; to pre-order a copy, visit your local bookstore, or order online at IndieboundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (save 30% at ucpress.edu; enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).

Matthew F. Delmont is Associate Professor of History at Arizona State University and the author of Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation and The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ’n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia, both published by UC Press.


50 Years Ago in New York City: Latin American Cinema at LASA 2016

By Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez, author of Latin American Cinema: A Comparative History

2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Latin American Studies Association, the largest organization of Latin Americanists in the world. Appropriately, the meeting is taking place in New York City, site of the initial congress, with the theme “LASA at 50.” In keeping with this theme and this place, the Film Studies Group and the Visual Studies Group organized a screening of “The Life, Death and Assumption of Lupe Vélez” at The Film-Makers’ Cooperative last week.

Film still close-up of Lupe
Mario Montez in a film still from “Lupe” by José Rodríguez Soltero (1966)

Also shot in New York City exactly fifty years ago, “Lupe” is a tribute to Mexican film star Lupe Vélez. Directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker José Rodríguez Soltero, it is clearly rooted in New York City’s underground cinema movement of the 1960s: it is visually striking, with bold, saturated colors; and narratively, it is every bit as transgressive as comparable films by Andy Warhol and Jack Smith. Its soundtrack, on the other hand, and the superb acting by drag queen Mario Montez, also root it to Latin America and Spain. Some of its parts seemed to dialogue with Mexican musicals of the 1950s called cabareteras. Others seemed to dialogue with Cuban Santiago Álvarez’s agit-prop newsreels of the 1960s. And I would not be surprised to learn that Almodóvar was inspired by Lupe when he shot “High Heels“.

The experience was unforgettable, a reminder that Latin American cinema, whether made in Latin America or in New York City, is a triangulated cinema defined by the intense circulation of images, themes, and sounds between North America, Europe, and Latin America itself.


Schoeder RodríguezPaul A. Schroeder Rodríguez is Professor and Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. The author of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: The Dialectics of a Filmmaker, he has published extensively on Latin American cinema in leading academic journals.


May Day for Media Workers

May Day, “International Worker’s Day,” is a curiously un-American holiday. Celebrated by labor groups and political parties outside the United States, it began in 1890 as a global day of solidarity to commemorate those who lost their lives in Chicago’s Haymarket Square while demonstrating for an eight-hour workday. Haymarket, a symbol of labor’s rising activism, also sparked America’s first major “red scare,” a political backlash that created tensions within the U.S. labor movement and hived it off from its counterparts around the world. That legacy is still with us, as most American labor organizations 9780520290853continue to frame issues through the prism of national interest. Even in Hollywood, labor groups describe their most pressing challenges in terms of “runaway production,” which is industry parlance for out-sourcing. Consequently, many workers fail to grasp the larger set of forces that is killing jobs, intensifying workplace pressures, and undermining creativity. They also have a hard time making connections between the challenges they face and those confronted by counterparts overseas. Interestingly, the situation isn’t so different in Bollywood (Mumbai), Nollywood (Lagos), and Prague, as demonstrated by two dozen scholars in Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor, a newly released UC Press volume that’s also available through the Luminos open access platform.

As these scholars show, motion picture production practices in cities around the world are growing more closely aligned under the pressures of media globalization and corporate conglomeration. Distribution protocols and audience behaviors are also converging. Although these transformations offer fresh opportunities for media makers and their fans, they also open the door to managerial strategies that exact a heavy toll on workers and make it difficult for them to organize and respond. Interestingly, one of the most widely shared complaints is about the long workdays that run well past the eight-hour limit advocated by Haymarket demonstrators more than a hundred years ago!

protest
A demonstration by VFX workers outside the 2013 Oscars when “Life of Pi” was winning the special effects award only two weeks after the company that made the effects went bankrupt and the workers were fired. Learn more here.

Precarious Creativity provides a window into the everyday lives of film, television, and video game workers, while also offering a critical perspective that makes connections and comparisons across the globe. Essays also reflect on the prospects for labor activism and transnational organizing. We are therefore delighted to have the opportunity to release it on the Luminos open access platform where it is already reaching a global audience. Only weeks after publication Precarious Creativity has been accessed by readers in Nigeria, India, and the Czech Republic; and it has generated a bit of buzz stateside as well, even in Hollywood.

So here’s to May Day, and to greater awareness of the diverse yet interwoven challenges facing media workers around the world!


curtin_photoMichael Curtin is the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Professor of Global Studies in the Department of Film and Media Studies and cofounder of the Media Industries Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His previous books include The American Television Industry; Reorienting Global Communication: Indian and Chinese Media Beyond Borders; Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV; andDistribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digitial Future of Film and Television.

 

eca5eb6b9121c94762157af75cda5077-bpfullKevin Sanson is a Lecturer in Entertainment Industries at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. He is coeditor of Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and Television and Connected Viewing: Selling, Streaming, & Sharing Media in the Digital Era and is part of the founding editorial collective of Media Industries, the first peer-reviewed open-access journal for media industries research.