To be Continued …

Seriality, cyclicality, and the new cinema history

Authored by: Tim Snelson

The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138955844
eBook ISBN: 9781315666051
Adobe ISBN:


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In the introduction to Explorations in New Cinema History, Richard Maltby (2011) makes a distinction between film history – a history of films and their production – and new cinema history – an emergent interdisciplinary approach that considers the circulation and reception of cinema. This chapter argues that the theoretical frameworks associated with studying seriality and cyclicality allow historians to analyze the complex, at times contradictory ways in which films were conceived during their production, circulation and reception. By focusing on films not as individual creations or in terms of post hoc generic categories, but in terms of the repetitions of cyclical production trends and routine patterns of consumption, they become vital coordinates for mapping cinema’s commercial and social positioning within and across given historical periods. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the chapter defines the key theoretical frameworks associated with seriality and cyclicality, drawing on the work of historians, sociologists, and business scholars, as well as film theorists. In order to demonstrate its intervention, this chapter draws upon a range of new work by cinema and media historians that is shaping this emerging field of study. Much of this work focuses on the production and (global) circulation of Hollywood film cycles and serials during the silent and classical eras (Barefoot, 2011, 2016; Canjels, 2011; Mayer, 2014; Snelson, 2015; Stanfield, 2013, 2015, 2016). As these varied studies and this chapter’s subsequent example of the “jitterbug film” cycle demonstrates, Hollywood’s silent and classical periods have been much studied but often misunderstood in traditional film histories.

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