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Off the Beaten Track: Fan Archives in Early Hollywood

 by Diana W. Anselmo (more info below).

The webinar is scheduled for May 11th 2 pm EST (= at 20:00 CET)

In order to get the zoom link please contact Jono Van Belle via Jono.Van-Belle@oru.se

Abstract: Unlike most scholarship on US silent cinema, my research focuses on first-person artifacts (movie scrapbooks, diaries, fan mail, photos) crafted by self-identified “screen-struck girls” growing up at the time of Hollywood’s emergence. Described as the original “adolescents” and “movie fans” by journalists and psychologists, the juvenilia of early moviegoing girls helps historicize how gender, class, sexuality, creed, dis/ability, and ethnicity came to shape privilege and prejudice in the US. For example, scrapbook collages of cross-dressed actresses and private fan mail reveal an undocumented history of everyday queer life shaped around moviegoing. Seminal to the formation of a commercial fan culture, these reception practices are seldom discussed, yet they remain central to the maintenance of digital fan communities. A nuanced understanding of the diverse ways female audiences helped establish Hollywood’s media industry is thus key to an equitable redistribution of power in US public history.

Bio: Diana W. Anselmo is a feminist film historian and assistant professor who specializes in US silent cinema, female reception, and queer media. Her work has appeared in Cinema Journal, Screen, Camera Obscura, Feminist Media Histories, and Film History, among others. In 2019, her research received the Screen Journal Award. A book on queer female reception in early Hollywood is forthcoming with the University of California Press.