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Interpreting Films : Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema - Janet Staiger

Interpreting Films

Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema

Paperback Published: 23rd March 1992
ISBN: 9780691006161
Number Of Pages: 290

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Employing a wide range of examples from Uncle Tom's Cabin and Birth of a Nation to Zelig and Personal Best, Janet Staiger argues that a historical examination of spectators' responses to films can make a valuable contribution to the history, criticism, and philosophy of cultural products. She maintains that as artifacts, films do not contain immanent meanings, that differences among interpretations have historical bases, and that these variations are due to social, political, and economic conditions as well as the viewers' constructed images of themselves. After proposing a theory of reception study, the author demonstrates its application mainly through analyzing the varying responses of audiences to certain films at specific moments in history. Staiger gives special attention to how questions of class, gender, sexual preference, race, and ethnicity enter into film viewers' interpretations. Her analysis reflects recent developments in post-structuralism, cognitive psychology, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies, and includes a discussion of current reader-response models in literary and film studies as well as an alternative approach for thinking about historical readers and spectators.

List of Figures and Sources
Theoretical Concernsp. 1
The Use-Value of Reception Studiesp. 3
Reception Studies in Other Disciplinesp. 16
Reception Studies in Film and Televisionp. 49
Toward a Historical Materialist Approach to Reception Studiesp. 79
Studies in the History of the Reception of American Filmsp. 99
Rethinking "Primitive" Cinema: Intertextuality, the Middle-Class Audience, and Reception Studiesp. 101
"The Handmaiden of Villainy": Foolish Wives, Politics, Gender Orientation, and the Otherp. 124
The Birth of a Nation: Reconsidering Its Receptionp. 139
The Logic of Alternative Readings: A Star Is Bornp. 154
With the Compliments of the Auteur: Art Cinema and the Complexities of Its Reading Strategiesp. 178
Chameleon in the Film, Chameleons in the Audience; or, Where Is Parody? The Case of Zeligp. 196
Epiloguep. 210
Notesp. 213
Select Bibliographyp. 259
Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691006161
ISBN-10: 0691006164
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 290
Published: 23rd March 1992
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.24  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.45

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