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  • Recent Books in Film History

Reflecting the broad range of new scholarship in the history of cinema, the books included in this section have been selected by the editorial staff of Film History. The summaries have been provided by the authors.


Erika Balsom, After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017).

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Advertisement for an 8mm reduction print of the abridged version of Stan Brakhage's Lovemaking (1968) in an undated and unnumbered issue of Grove Press's Evergreen Club News, circa 1968.

(Courtesy of Grove/Atlantic Inc. and Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Scholarship on film and video art has been dominated by considerations of aesthetics and authorship, leaving the question of how these works reach audiences [End Page 193] relatively unexplored. Drawing on research in numerous paper archives in the United States and Europe, After Uniqueness responds to this gap by charting a history of competing and cooperating distribution models in this field of practice. The moving image entered the artistic context under the sign of the multiple, challenging the uniqueness of the traditional work of art with unprecedented possibilities of circulation. After Uniqueness shows how this reproducibility was conceived as both promise and threat, first exploring the embrace of the copy as tied to access and democratization, and then assessing diverse attempts to limit circulation and the varying motivations behind them. Topics include the 8mm reduction print, the digital bootleg, copyright, the limitededition model of sale, live cinema, and site-specific filmmaking.


Blair Davis, Movie Comics: Page to Screen/Screen to Page (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2017).

Movie Comics examines the history, aesthetics, and industrial issues surrounding how films and comics adapted each other between 1900 and 1960. Along with tracing the origins of comic-book movies, the book looks at the long history of how comic books and strips adapted movies (and television shows), extending Hollywood beyond the theater—and TV beyond the picture tube—while offering a tangible remnant of the cinematic/televisual experience.

Drawing upon archival material from the Margaret Herrick Library and the UCLA Film & Television Archive as well as a wide range of period trade publications, Movie Comics shows how the film and comics industries have always been allies. Comics offered viewers a new way to experience cinematic imagery at home in the pre-VCR era, often serving as an early forum for what we now call transmedia storytelling. [End Page 194]

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Cover of the first issue of Movie Comics, April 1939, All-American Publications

[End Page 195]


Jonathan Haynes, Nollywood: The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Emerging in the early 1990s as a video-based popular art, Nollywood quickly grew into one of the world's largest and most prolific film industries and, arguably, the most consequential contemporary African art form. This book is the first comprehensive history of Nollywood's first twenty years and the first comprehensive account of its major genres. The particular genres—and the industry as a whole—are interpreted as responses to Nigeria's turbulent recent history and to more enduring social tensions and values. Early chapters describe Nollywood's foundation amid the economic and social devastation of the structural-adjustment era and Nollywood's capacity to mount blistering symbolic critiques of life under military rule. Sometimes extremely topical, Nollywood also addresses issues stemming from slower transformations, including companionate marriage, urban-rural relations, diasporic migration, and the traditional past and its living legacies. The book is based on extensive interviewing and features a large filmography.

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Idumota Market, Lagos: the center of Nollywood film distribution. (Photo by J. Haynes)

[End Page 196]


Kamila Kuc, Visions of Avant-Garde Film: Polish Cinematic Experiments from Expressionism to Constructivism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016).

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The cover of Karol Irzykowski's Tenth Muse.

(Courtesy of Filmoteka Narodowa, Warsaw, Poland)

This book is concerned largely with the period between 1896 and 1924 and deals with notions of avant-garde film prior to...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 193-203
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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