Cinema and the Wealth of Nations explores how media, principally in the form of cinema, was used during the interwar years by elite institutions to establish and sustain forms of liberal political economy beneficial to their interests. It examines the media produced by institutions such as states, corporations, and investment banks, as well as the emergence of a corporate media industry and system supported by state policy and integral to the establishment of a new consumer system. Lee Grieveson shows how media was used to encode liberal political and economic power during the period that saw the United States eclipse Britain as the globally hegemonic nation and the related inauguration of new forms of liberal economic globalization. But this is not a distant history. Cinema and the Wealth of Nations examines a foundational conjuncture in the establishment of media forms and a media system instrumental in, and structural to, the emergence and expansion of a world system that has been—and continues to be—brutally violent, unequal, and destructive.
Lee Grieveson is Professor of Media History at University College London. He is the author of Policing Cinema: Movies and Censorship in Early Twentieth Century America and coeditor of a number of volumes, including Inventing Film Studies, Empire and Film, and, most recently, Cinema’s Military Industrial Complex.
"Lee Grieveson’s cultural-materialist tour de force ruthlessly examines the global history of movies and money, detailing the sordid global backstory behind the uncertain and unequal balance between art and commerce. This rigorously researched and deeply felt radical media study evinces a perceptive and thoroughgoing analysis of a medium that has from its outset served an exploitative political economy."—Jon Lewis, author of Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles
"The interpenetration of the state, finance capitalism, and film is central to this formidable book. I am awed by the volume of scholarship, the force of the analysis, and the style of the narrative. This is a book that will open up a significant subfield in film studies."—Colin MacCabe, Distinguished Professor of English and Film, University of Pittsburgh
“By combining perceptive film analyses and extensive archival research with an astonishing command of scholarship in a range of disciplines and an intense passion for politics, Grieveson poses a serious challenge to film and media historians: dig deeper, think bigger, be relevant!”—Peter Krämer, author of The New Hollywood: From Bonnie and Clyde to Star Wars
"Grieveson presents the definitive account of media’s primacy to our modern world’s corporatized and imperiled commons. This is paradigm-shifting work that lays bare for the first time—with lucidity, breadth of vision, and unparalleled detail—the logic of liberal capitalism underwriting film’s and radio’s infrastructural history in Britain and the United States.”—Priya Jaikumar, Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Southern California
"This is an immensely ambitious study of the role film and radio have played in establishing the global economic dominance of the United States and the power of its large corporations. It evokes and (invokes) the work of Perry Anderson, Antonio Gramsci, Manuel Castells, and Immanuel Wallerstein and is surely the most succcessful attempt in this century to write a big picture history of vertical integration and corporate control of media production. We are all in Grieveson's debt for a landmark book that is certain to raise the level of scholarly discussion and in an age of continuing consolidation in the media industry could not be more timely."—Edward Dimendberg, Professor of Humanities, University of California, Irvine
"There are few books in film and media studies that can match the scope, erudition, explanatory ambition, and polemical edge of Lee Grieveson’s invaluable history of how corporations and government agencies deployed and fundamentally shaped cinema (and other media) as an engine for and emblem of advanced liberal capitalism."—Gregory A. Waller, Provost Professor in the Media School, Indiana University
"Cinema and the Wealth of Nations is an extremely important book that, in terms of its potential influence on the field, is on a par with Georges Sadoul’s Histoire générale du cinema (1946-1950) or The Classical Hollywood Cinema of Bordwell, Thompson, and Staiger (1985). This is one of the most consequential books of film history that I have ever read, and it is poised to ask us to deeply rethink the current state of the field of film history as practiced in the Anglo-American context.”—Mark Lynn Anderson, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh OR author of Twilight of the Idols: Hollywood and the Human Sciences in 1920s America
"This book is a brilliant synthesis of biopolitical theory and concrete historical research. Grieveson shows us how the imperial ambitions of the United States materialize in the content and infrastructure of American media industries. His lucid and persuasive prose dramatizes the centrality of media systems in evolving conceptions of global governance and state power."—Anna McCarthy, Professor of Cinema Studies, New York University