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Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958–1977 explores how documentarians working between the election of John F. Kennedy and the Bicentennial created conflicting visions of the recent and more distant American past. Drawing on a wide range of primary documents, Joshua Glick analyzes the films of Hollywood documentarians such as David Wolper and Mel Stuart, along with lesser-known independents and activists such as Kent Mackenzie, Lynne Littman, and Jesús Salvador Treviño. While the former group reinvigorated a Cold War cultural liberalism, the latter group advocated for social justice in a city plagued by severe class stratification and racial segregation. Glick examines how mainstream and alternative filmmakers turned to the archives, civic institutions, and production facilities of Los Angeles in order to both change popular understandings of the city and shape the social consciousness of the nation.
Joshua Glick is Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies at Hendrix College, where he teaches courses on documentary, race, early cinema, and new media formations.
"Joshua Glick's book is an excellent and original account of two decades of documentary film and television in Los Angeles during a period of radical social transformation."—David E. James, author of The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geographies of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles
"Cultural studies meets history and brings Los Angeles back into documentary history in Glick’s important new book on American documentary. This unpretentious, authoritative book will be as important to working filmmakers and aspiring documentarians as it will be to historians and communications studies students and scholars."—Patricia Aufderheide, author of Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction
“A masterful and original book, built upon painstaking archival research, astute cultural analysis, and poignant oral histories from LA’s independent and ‘studio’ documentary movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Pushing beyond tired frameworks of maker, genre, ethics, and theory, this insightful book provides a model for synthesizing disparate perspectives from technology and media industry studies, human subjects research, archival historiography, and cultural geography. Glick makes connecting the dots an art form, forcing us to reconsider the ‘straw-men’ we habitually make of documentary’s ‘others’: Hollywood and television. A must-read.”—John T. Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television
"This extraordinary book offers a rich history of independent and studio documentary practice, television programming, public broadcasting, and alternative media production. A brilliant and meticulously researched book, it is groundbreaking work organized around the multiple circuits of media production in Los Angeles. Glick’s work is a substantial reassessment of film and media history that vitally considers how filmmakers, producers, communities, and cultures in Los Angeles grappled with the politics and craft of public history making, consequential changes in the film and media industry, and the promises and possibilities of media as tool for social engagement."—Michael Boyce Gillespie, author of Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film