Article

Poems, Novels, and Plays About Film

Laurence Goldstein

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0184
Poems, Novels, and Plays About Film

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From the beginnings of film technology in the last decade of the 19th century, creative writers have commented descriptively and speculatively on this new “sister art.” As the movies became an important social and cultural phenomenon around the world, authors of narrative and lyric forms assessed the impact of both the industry and its products on the behavior and consciousness of the general population. For novelists and dramatists, “Hollywood” became the keyword to represent not only the most significant geographic site of moviemaking but also the power and influence of the film medium in general. Poets examined the changes in modes of perception and sensibility wrought by a kinetic art form constituted so massively of pictorial imagery rather than language. The first impulse among authors was to celebrate the new medium for its ability to resurrect the sense of wonder and religious feeling that had declined during the late 19th century. Hollywood was praised as a city of art, a new Florence, and an opportunity for people to realize the American Dream of success and fame. Vachel Lindsay’s upbeat nonfiction book The Art of the Moving Picture (Lindsay 2000, cited under Theories of the Relation of Poetry and Film) and Parker Tyler’s writings (Tyler 1970a, Tyler 1970b, both cited under Theories of the Relation of Poetry and Film) exemplify this enthusiasm. However, a countercurrent began almost immediately, as the city came under attack for vulgarizing the social codes by its decadent lifestyles, and movies were deplored for their trashy fantasies and sinister social effects. Nathanael West’s corrosive novel The Day of the Locust (West 2006, cited under Seminal Texts: 1915–1949) and theorists such as Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin signaled anxieties about the powerful influence of film technology in an era of violent social and political change. In a feedback cycle beginning in the earliest period of filmmaking, public fascination with movies led to the production of a vast number of literary texts about movies, which were adapted on many occasions for re-creation as films. The resulting increase of media attention at each stage of the process guaranteed that the film medium would move gradually to the forefront of public awareness in the literary community as elsewhere in society. Scholars in this field must focus at first on primary literary texts to understand the commentaries that draw from them. The abundance of entries under Individual Poems, Individual Novels, and Individual Plays constitutes a database for the overviews and analyses produced in this relatively new field of study. All of the texts in this bibliography are available in the English language. Most are American in origin with a smaller contingent from the United Kingdom. The various lists include a sampling of material from other countries translated into English.

Article.  16208 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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