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Reading: On the prospect of writing cinema history from below


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On the prospect of writing cinema history from below


Richard Maltby

About Richard

Richard Maltby is Professor of Screen Studies and Head of the School of Humanities at Flinders University, South Australia. Before moving to Australia in 1997, he was the founding Director of the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture at the University of Exeter and then Research Professor of Film Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. He has co-edited four books on the history of movie audiences and exhibition history, and is currently completing a fifth, Going to the Movies: The Social Experience of Cinema. Another co-edited book, ‘Film Europe’ and ‘Film America’: Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1925-1939, won the Prix Jean Mitry for cinema history in 2000. His other publications include Hollywood Cinema: Second Edition (2003), Dreams for Sale: Popular Culture in the Twentieth Century (1989), and Harmless Entertainment: Hollywood and the Ideology of Consensus (1983), as well as over 50 articles and essays. He is Series Editor of Exeter Studies in Film History.

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Beginning with a consideration of recent discussions on the state of film history this essay explores some aspects of the relationship between the historiography of cinema and broader currents of contemporary historiography including the poststructuralist critique of history as a realist fiction. It engages with what
Colin MacCabe has recently called 'the weaknesses and insularity' of contemporary film studies by advocating the development of histories of cinema that place audiences rather than films at their centre and integrate the quantitative methods of social history with the concrete and particular conditions of experience that are the predominant concern of micro-history.

How to Cite: Maltby, Richard. 2006. “On the Prospect of Writing Cinema History from Below”. TMG Journal for Media History 9 (2): 74–96. DOI:
Published on 01 Dec 2006.


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