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|Title:||The Filmgoing Imagination: Filmmaking and Filmgoing as the Subjects of Modern American Literature|
|Author(s):||Seidman, Barbara Ann|
|Department / Program:||English|
|Degree Granting Institution:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|Abstract:||This thesis discusses the variety of ways in which American literature has been inspired by the film industry.
The earliest fictional treatments of the burgeoning American film industry reflect popular biases by presenting the film endeavor as a modern version of the Horatio Alger myth. Early treatments also argued for the aesthetic integrity of the cinema. The optimism of these books subsided considerably after 1915, when satirical treatments of the film industry began to appear. Although some writers, like Vachel Lindsay, expressed enthusiasm about the medium's artistic possibilities and embraced it as a unique aesthetic form, others, including H.D., Dreiser, and O'Neill, saw its artistic potential tarnished by the commercial preoccupations of Hollywood. Still others, like the young Fitzgerald, adopted cynical poses to preserve their literary integrity as they dealt in the hard cash Hollywood offered them. But there were also writers, like Gertrude Stein and Henry Miller, who incorporated aspects of the new medium into their own literary experiments.
The most direct means for American writers to confront the aesthetic challenge of cinema involved becoming part of the actual filmmaking process. An analysis of the film careers of Fitzgerald, Ben Hecht, and Mailer, all of whom worked in and wrote about Hollywood, provides insight into the creative interplay between the literary imagination and the film medium.
In post-World War II fiction, American writers use references to movie stardom as a form of contemporary figurative language. Joyce Carol Oates, Walker Percy, David Madden, and Thomas Pynchon interject star references throughout their fiction as a literary shorthand for the crisis of modern identity and the substitution of media "celebrity" for substantive human experience. A literary star mythology belongs to the more inclusive metaphor of moviegoing as a means of engaging and interpreting reality. In such works as Percy's The Moviegoer, Nabokov's Lolita, and Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, moviegoing provides characters with "ideal" star personalities, codes of behavior, and generic conventions to guide their expectations.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
|Date Available in IDEALS:||2014-12-15|