American Documentary Film

Jeffrey Geiger

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748621477
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670796 | DOI:
American Documentary Film

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American Documentary Film focuses on the extensive range and history of nonfiction filmmaking in the USA, investigating how documentary films have reflected varied and often competing visions of US culture, history, and national identity. Documentary has long been a negotiated and changing concept: a site of social, intellectual, and aesthetic investment keenly fought over and debated. In this sense documentary films also create a kind of public space: they act as sites for community-building, public expression, and social innovation; they contribute to the public sphere. This book distills key aspects of the documentary idea while tracing the form's development over time, focusing on the ways documentaries have given shape to the experience and comprehension of a national imaginary. Combining comprehensive overviews with in-depth case studies, Geiger examines the impact of pre- and early cinema, travelogues, the avant-garde, 1930s social documentary, Second World War propaganda, direct cinema, postmodernism and the crisis of ‘truth’, and the new media age.

Keywords: documentary film; motion pictures: United States; American studies; American history; film history; early cinema; nationalism

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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Table of Contents

Introduction in American Documentary Film


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