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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts

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Anna May Wong Cover

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Anna May Wong

From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend

Graham Russell Gao Hodges

Anna May Wong was perhaps the best known Chinese American actress during Hollywood’s golden age, a free spirit and embodiment of the flapper era much like Louise Brooks. She starred in over fifty movies between 1919 and 1960, sharing the screen with such luminaries as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Marlene Dietrich. Born in Los Angeles in 1905, Wong was the second daughter of six children born to a laundryman and his wife. Obsessed with film at a young age, she managed to secure a small part in a 1919 drama about the Boxer Rebellion. Her most famous film roles were in The Thief of Baghdad, Old San Francisco, and Shanghai Express opposite Dietrich. Despite these successes, instances of overt racism plagued Wong’s career. When it came time to make a film version of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, she was passed over for the Austrian-born actress, Luise Rainer. In a narrative that recalls both the gritty life in Los Angeles’s working-class Chinese neighborhoods and the glamour of Hollywood at its peak, Graham Hodges recounts the life of this elegant, beautiful, and underappreciated screen legend.

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Another Part of a Long Story

Literary Traces of Eugene O'Neill and Agnes Boulton

William Davies King

An engrossing biography about the marital breakdown of a major literary figure, of particular interest for what it reveals about O'Neill's creative process, activities, and bohemian lifestyle at the time of his early successes and some of his most interesting experimental work. In addition, King's discussion of Boulton's efforts as a writer of pulp fiction in the early part of the 20th century reveals an interesting side of popular fiction writing at that time, and gives insight into the lifestyle of the liberated woman. ---Stephen Wilmer, Trinity College, Dublin Biographers of American playwright Eugene O'Neill have been quick to label his marriage to actress Carlotta Monterey as the defining relationship of his illustrious career. But in doing so, they overlook the woman whom Monterey replaced---Agnes Boulton, O'Neill's wife of over a decade and mother to two of his children. O'Neill and Boulton were wed in 1918---a time when she was a successful pulp novelist and he was still a little-known writer of one-act plays. During the decade of their marriage, he gained fame as a Broadway dramatist who rejected commercial compromise, while she mapped that contentious territory known as the literary marriage. His writing reflected her, and hers reflected him, as they tried to realize progressive ideas about what a marriage should be. But after O'Neill left the marriage, he and new love Carlotta Monterey worked diligently to put Boulton out of sight and mind---and most O'Neill biographers have been quick to follow suit. William Davies King has brought Agnes Boulton to light again, providing new perspectives on America's foremost dramatist, the dynamics of a literary marriage, and the story of a woman struggling to define herself in the early twentieth century. King shows how the configuration of O'Neill and Boulton's marriage helps unlock many of O'Neill's plays. Drawing on more than sixty of Boulton's published and unpublished writings, including her 1958 memoir, Part of a Long Story, and an extensive correspondence, King rescues Boulton from literary oblivion while offering the most radical revisionary reading of the work of Eugene O'Neill in a generation. William Davies King is Professor of Theater at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of several books, most recently Collections of Nothing, chosen by Amazon.com as one of the Best Books of 2008. Illustration: Eugene O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, and Agnes Boulton ca. 1923. Eugene O'Neill Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

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Another Self

Middle-Class American Women and Their Friends in the Twentieth Century

Linda Rosenzweig

From nineteenth-century romantic friendships to childhood best friends and idealistic versions of feminist sisterhood, female friendship has been seen as an essential, sustaining influence on women's lives. Women are thought to have a special aptitude for making and keeping friends.

But notions of friendship are not constant-and neither are women's experiences of this fundamental form of connection. In Another Self, Linda W. Rosenzweig sheds light on the changing nature of white middle-class American women's relationships during the coming of age of modern America.

As the middle-class domesticity of the nineteenth century waned, a new emotional culture arose in the twentieth century and the intensely affectionate bonds between women of earlier decades were supplanted by new priorities: autonomy, careers, participation in an expanding consumer culture, and the expectation of fulfillment and companionship in marriage. An increased emphasis on heterosexual interactions and a growing stigmatization of close same-sex relationships fostered new friendship styles and patterns.

Drawing on a wide range of primary sources including diaries, journals, correspondence, and popular periodicals, Rosenzweig uncovers the complex and intricate links between social and cultural developments and women's personal experiences of friendship.

Another Steven Soderbergh Experience Cover

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Another Steven Soderbergh Experience

Authorship and Contemporary Hollywood

By Mark Gallagher

Through in-depth investigation of Soderbergh’s work in film, television, and video, as well as an extensive interview with the filmmaker, this book offers a new model of film authorship in the twenty-first century that emphasizes its fundamentally collaborative nature.

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Anthony Minghella

Interviews

Mario Falsetto

Anthony Minghella: Interviews is an illuminating anthology of in-depth conversations with this important contemporary film director and producer. The collection explores Minghella's ideas on every aspect of the cinematic creative process including screenwriting, acting, editing, the use of music in film, and other topics concerning the role of the film director.

Minghella (1954-2008) was a highly regarded British playwright (Made in Bangkok), and television writer (Inspector Morse) before turning to film directing with his quirky, highly regarded first film, Truly, Madly, Deeply, in 1990. He went on to direct an extraordinary trilogy of large-scale films, all adapted from significant works of contemporary literature. Minghella's 1996 adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's poetic novel The English Patient was the director's most critically and commercially successful film and went on to win dozens of awards around the world, including nine academy awards. Minghella followed this film with his entertaining, elegant adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, a film that enjoyed great critical and commercial success and featured some of the best acting of the 1990s by its talented cast of young, rising stars, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Minghella's ambitious adaptation of Charles Frazier's American Civil War romance, Cold Mountain, was released in 2003, and firmly marked Minghella as a director of intimate, yet large-scale epic cinema worthy of David Lean.

Although Minghella was a successful film director and producer, he was also an important part of the cultural life of the U.K. He was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2001 for his contributions to culture, and he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the British Film institute from 2004 to 2007.

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Appetites and Anxieties

Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation

Cynthia Baron, Diane Carson, and Mark Bernard

Cinema is a mosaic of memorable food scenes. Detectives drink alone. Gangsters talk with their mouths full. Families around the world argue at dinner. Food documentaries challenge popular consumption-centered visions. In Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation, authors Cynthia Baron, Diane Carson, and Mark Bernard use a foodways paradigm, drawn from the fields of folklore and cultural anthropology, to illuminate film's cultural and material politics. In looking at how films do and do not represent food procurement, preparation, presentation, consumption, clean-up, and disposal, the authors bring the pleasures, dangers, and implications of consumption to center stage. In nine chapters, Baron, Carson, and Bernard consider food in fiction films and documentaries-from both American and international cinema. The first chapter examines film practice from the foodways perspective, supplying a foundation for the collection of case studies that follow. Chapter 2 takes a political economy approach as it examines the food industry and the film industry's policies that determine representations of food in film. In chapter 3, the authors explore food and food interactions as a means for creating community in Bagdad Café, while in chapter 4 they take a close look at 301/302, in which food is used to mount social critique. Chapter 5 focuses on cannibal films, showing how the foodways paradigm unlocks the implications of films that dramatize one of society's greatest food taboos. In chapter 6, the authors demonstrate ways that insights generated by the foodways lens can enrich genre and auteur studies. Chapter 7 considers documentaries about food and water resources, while chapter 8 examines food documentaries that slip through the cracks of film censorship by going into exhibition without an MPAA rating. Finally, in chapter 9, the authors study films from several national cinemas to explore the intersection of food, gender, and ethnicity. Four appendices provide insights from a food stylist, a selected filmography of fiction films and a filmography of documentaries that feature foodways components, and a list of selected works in food and cultural studies. Scholars of film studies and food studies will enjoy the thought-provoking analysis of Appetites and Anxieties.

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Arab Filmmakers of the Middle East

A Dictionary

Roy Armes

In this landmark dictionary, Roy Armes details the scope and diversity of filmmaking across the Arab Middle East. Listing more than 550 feature films by more than 250 filmmakers, and short and documentary films by another 900 filmmakers, this volume covers the film production in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and the Gulf States. An introduction by Armes locates film and filmmaking traditions in the region from early efforts in the silent era to state-funded productions by isolated filmmakers and politically engaged documentarians. Part 1 lists biographical information about the filmmakers and their feature films. Part 2 details key feature films from the countries represented. Part 3 indexes feature-film titles in English and French with details about the director, date, and country of origin.

The Arab Public Sphere in Israel Cover

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The Arab Public Sphere in Israel

Media Space and Cultural Resistance

Amal Jamal

In this pathbreaking study, Amal Jamal analyzes the consumption of media by Arab citizens of Israel as a type of communicative behavior and a form of political action. Drawing on extensive public opinion survey data, he describes perceptions and use of media ranging from Arabic Israeli newspapers to satellite television broadcasts from throughout the Middle East. By participating in this semi-autonomous Arab public sphere, the average Arab citizen can connect with a wider Arab world beyond the boundaries of the Israeli state. Jamal shows how media aid the community's ability to resist the state's domination, protect its Palestinian national identity, and promote its civic status.

Arabs and Muslims in the Media Cover

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Arabs and Muslims in the Media

Race and Representation after 9/11

Evelyn Alsultany

After 9/11, there was an increase in both the incidence of hate crimes and government policies that targeted Arabs and Muslims and the proliferation of sympathetic portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media. Arabs and Muslims in the Media examines this paradox and investigates the increase of sympathetic images of “the enemy” during the War on Terror.

 

Evelyn Alsultany explains that a new standard in racial and cultural representations emerged out of the multicultural movement of the 1990s that involves balancing a negative representation with a positive one, what she refers to as “simplified complex representations.” This has meant that if the storyline of a TV drama or film represents an Arab or Muslim as a terrorist, then the storyline also includes a “positive” representation of an Arab, Muslim, Arab American, or Muslim American to offset the potential stereotype.  Analyzing how TV dramas such as West Wing, The Practice, 24, Threat Matrix, The Agency, Navy NCIS, and Sleeper Cell, news-reporting, and non-profit advertising have represented Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans, and Muslim Americans during the War on Terror, this book demonstrates how more diverse representations do not in themselves solve the problem of racial stereotyping and how even seemingly positive images can produce meanings that can justify exclusion and inequality.

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Aristotle and Black Drama Cover

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Aristotle and Black Drama

A Theater of Civil Disobedience

Patrice D. Rankine

Civil disobedience has a tattered history in the American story. Described by Martin Luther King Jr. as both moral reflection and political act, the performance of civil disobedience in the face of unjust laws is also, Patrice Rankine argues, a deeply artistic practice. Modern parallels to King’s civil disobedience can be found in black theater, where the black body challenges the normative assumptions of classical texts and modes of creation. This is a theater of civil disobedience.

Utilizing Aristotle’s Poetics, Rankine ably invokes the six aspects of Aristotelian drama—character, story, thought, spectacle, song, and diction. He demonstrates the re-appropriation and rejection of these themes by black playwrights August Wilson, Adrienne Kennedy, and Eugene O’Neill. Aristotle and Black Drama frames the theater of civil disobedience to challenge the hostility that still exists between theater and black identity.

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