A Film Noir Reading (and Viewing) List

In lead up to to the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference and film noir festivals in various cities this month, we’ve put together a reading list of Hollywood film history titles, along with some suggested movies to view with them.

Come visit our booth in Chicago to save 40% on these and other Cinema and Media Studies titles.


Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles by Jon Lewis

“Lewis trenchantly probes Hollywood’s underworlds: grifters, gossip-mongers, and gangsters, loners and losers—bodies ‘left by the side of the road.’ A fascinating rewriting of Hollywood history, especially around production culture, including cultures of failure and despair.” —Dana Polan, New York University

Hard-Boiled Hollywood focuses on the lives lost at the crossroads between a dreamed-of Los Angeles and the real thing after the Second World War, where reality was anything but glamorous.

Suggested film screenings: Sunset Boulevard, In a Lonely Place, and The Big Knife


Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins by Noah Isenberg

“A page turner of a biography.”—New York Times

“Isenberg’s writing…allows the monumental eccentricities of Ulmer’s underground journey to shine through.”—Bookforum

“Ulmer finally gets the attention and scholarship he deserves.”—The Credits

Suggested film screenings: Detour, The Black Cat, and People on Sunday


More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts by James Naremore

“Supplies the first study of film noir that achieves the sort of intellectual seriousness, depth of research, degree of critical insight, and level of writing that this group of films deserves.”—Tom Gunning, Modernism and Modernity

Naremore treats noir as a term in criticism, as an expression of artistic modernism, as a symptom of Hollywood censorship and politics, as a market strategy, as an evolving style, and as an idea that circulates through all the media. This new and expanded edition of More Than Night contains an additional chapter on film noir in the twenty-first century.

Suggested film screenings: The Lost Weekend, Killer’s Kiss, and This Gun for Hire


Painting with Light by John Alton

“Provides fascinating insights into the mechanisms of the studio system.”—Reel Ink

Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. First published in 1949, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of postwar American cinema.

Suggested film screenings: T-Men, He Walked By Night, and The Big Combo


Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures by Richard B. Jewell

“Jewell’s scholarship is impeccable and his text is plain-spoken and highly readable. Every studio deserves a similar examination; thank goodness the right man tackled this particular task.”—Leonard Maltin

Drawing on hard-to-access archival materials, Jewell chronicles the period from 1942 to the company’s demise in 1957. Towering figures associated with the studio included Howard Hughes, Orson Welles, Charles Koerner, Val Lewton, Jane Russell, and Robert Mitchum. In addition to featuring an extraordinary cast of characters, the RKO story describes key aspects of entertainment history: Hollywood’s collaboration with Washington, film noir, censorship, HUAC, the rise of independent film production, and the impact of television on film.

Suggested film screenings: The Big Steal, Notorious, and Split Second


The Presidential Recommended Reading List: UC Press Edition

Today on President’s Day, the nation commemorates the achievements of all of America’s chief executives. From the best books about American presidents to the favorite books of each of the 44 presidents, books help people gain insight on their presidents—and can help presidents gain insight on their constituents.

As many provide recommended reading lists for current President Donald Trump to learn from, we add here our list of suggested titles.

Political Economics

Immigration

Education

Law and Justice

What book would you add to the president’s recommended reading list?

 


Upholding Lincoln’s Legacy: How Can Governments and Citizens Build a World Without Slavery?

In recognition of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, we observe his greatest, most lasting accomplishment: the abolition of slavery. Through this lens, we look at the historic and modern day slave trade to ask the question: how can governments and citizens build a world without slavery?

The U.S. State Department, in their 2016 Trafficking in Persons report, estimated that there are currently more than twenty million people worldwide trapped in human trafficking, a $150 billion industry. How does this happen? And what role does trafficking play in capitalism? We’ve compiled a selection of recommended titles that explore the ways in which slavery and human trafficking, historically and currently, are tightly interwoven into global economies.

Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea by Johan Mathew

What is the relationship between trafficking and free trade? Is trafficking the perfection or the perversion of free trade? Trafficking occurs thousands of times each day at borders throughout the world, yet we have come to perceive it as something quite extraordinary.  In Margins of the Market, Johan Mathew traces the hidden networks that operated across the Arabian Sea in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following the entangled history of trafficking and capitalism, he explores how the Arabian Sea reveals the gaps that haunt political borders and undermine economic models. Ultimately, he shows how capitalism was forged at the margins of the free market, where governments intervened, and traffickers turned a profit.

 

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Updated with a New Preface by Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales’s disturbing story of slavery today reaches from brick kilns in Pakistan and brothels in Thailand to the offices of multinational corporations. His investigation of conditions in Mauritania, Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, and India reveals the tragic emergence of a “new slavery,” one intricately linked to the global economy. The new slaves are not a long-term investment as was true with older forms of slavery, explains Bales. Instead, they are cheap, require little care, and are disposable. Through vivid case studies, Bales observes the complex economic relationships of modern slavery and offers suggestions for combating the practice, including “naming and shaming” corporations linked to slavery.

 

Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves: Colonial America and the Indo-Atlantic World by Kevin P. McDonald 

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, more than a thousand pirates poured from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean. There, according to Kevin P. McDonald, they helped launch an informal trade network that spanned the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, connecting the North American colonies with the rich markets of the East Indies. Rather than conducting their commerce through chartered companies based in London or Lisbon, colonial merchants in New York entered into an alliance with Euro-American pirates based in Madagascar. Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves explores the resulting global trade network located on the peripheries of world empires and shows the illicit ways American colonists met the consumer demand for slaves and East India goods.

 

Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World edited by Emma Christopher, Cassandra Pybus, and Marcus Rediker 

This groundbreaking book presents a global perspective on the history of forced migration over three centuries and illuminates the centrality of these vast movements of people in the making of the modern world. Highly original essays from renowned international scholars trace the history of slaves, indentured servants, transported convicts, bonded soldiers, trafficked women, and coolie and Kanaka labor across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. Together, the essays provide a truly global context for understanding the experience of men, women, and children forced into the violent and alienating experience of bonded labor in a strange new world.

 


A New York Reading List for the 2017 College Art Association Conference

UC Press is exhibiting at the College Art Association Conference February 15–18 in New York, and we can’t wait to see you there! Be sure to stop by booth #605 for discount details on all UC Press art books and follow @educatedarts, @collegeart, and the hashtag #CAA2017 for meeting news—including an upcoming series of author posts.

As we get ready for the conference, we’ve rounded up some suggested advance reading for art and music aficionados, whether you’re going to the conference or just heading to the Big Apple in spirit. To save 30% now, use discount code 16W6596 for the following titles (enter code at checkout).

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

“The maps themselves are things of beauty.”—New York Times 

Twenty-six gorgeously rendered maps and informative essays chart New York city’s hidden histories in the final volume of Rebecca Solnit’s trilogy of atlases. Bringing together the insights of dozens of experts—from linguists to music historians, ethnographers, urbanists, and environmental journalists—amplified by cartographers, artists, and photographers, the book explores all five boroughs of New York City and parts of nearby New Jersey, celebrating the region’s incubation of the avant-garde and its literary history, while also critiquing its racial and economic inequality, environmental impact, and erasure of its past. Check out our previous blog posts on the atlas and follow @nonstopatlas on Twitter for more peeks inside the book.

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s by Michael C. Heller

“A vital chapter in downtown history . . . a study long overdue.”—Village Voice

The New York loft jazz scene of the 1970s was a pivotal period for uncompromising, artist-produced work. Faced with a flagging jazz economy, a group of young avant-garde improvisers chose to eschew the commercial sphere and develop alternative venues in the abandoned factories and warehouses of Lower Manhattan. Loft Jazz provides the first book-length study of this period, tracing its history amid a series of overlapping discourses surrounding collectivism, urban renewal, experimentalist aesthetics, underground archives, and the radical politics of self-determination. Learn more about the movement and the book in this Village Voice article.

Drawing the Line: The Early Work of Agnes Martin by Christina Bryan Rosenberger

If your interest was piqued by the recent Agnes Martin exhibition at the Guggenheim, then this revelatory study of the artist’s early works is just what you need. Beginning with Martin’s initiation into artistic language at the University of New Mexico and concluding with the reception of her grid paintings in New York in the early 1960s, author Christina Bryan Rosenberger offers vivid descriptions of the networks of art, artists, and information that moved between New Mexico and the creative centers of New York and California in the postwar period.

Consuming Stories: Kara Walker and the Imagining of American Race by Rebecca Peabody

New York-based artist Kara Walker is well known for her site-specific pieces around the city—”A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” at the former Domino Sugar compound and her mural, “Event Horizon,” at the New School, among others. In this in-depth study, Rebecca Peabody delves deep into Walker’s brilliant and provocative art and her engagement with literary genres such as the romance novel, the neo-slave narrative, and the fairy tale to how Walker uses her tools and strategies to unsettle cultural histories  and examine assumptions about race, gender, power, and desire.


The Occupy Movement as a Teachable Moment

As the Occupy movement continues to grow and influence the global economic debate, two of our editors came forward with what titles they would recommend people consider if they want to gain perspective on the issues behind the debate. If you have any UC Press titles you’d like to add to the list, please us know in the comments.

From Naomi Schneider, Executive Editor:

Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America edited by Kim Voss and Irene Bloemraad

 

 

 

Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression by Dale Maharidge and photographs by Michael S. Williamson, with a foreword by Bruce Springsteen

 

 

 

The Activist’s Handbook: A Primer, Updated Edition with a New Preface by Randy Shaw

 

 

 

 

Changing Inequality by Rebecca Blank

 

 

 

 

Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged by Katherine S. Newman and Rourke O’Brien

 

 

 

 

From Niels Hooper, History Editor-

The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige

 

 

 

The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All by Peter Linebaugh

 

 

 

 

Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice, A new direction for labor by two of its leading activist intellectuals by Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin

 

 

 

Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics by Rebecca Solnit

 

 

 

 

The Modern World-System IV: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789–1914 by Immanuel Wallerstein