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Amateur Cinema

The Rise of North American Moviemaking, 1923-1960

Charles Tepperman

From the very beginning of cinema, there have been amateur filmmakers at work. It wasn’t until Kodak introduced 16mm film in 1923, however, that amateur moviemaking became a widespread reality, and by the 1950s, over a million Americans had amateur movie cameras. In Amateur Cinema, Charles Tepperman explores the meaning of the "amateur" in film history and modern visual culture.

In the middle decades of the twentieth century—the period that saw Hollywood’s rise to dominance in the global film industry—a movement of amateur filmmakers created an alternative world of small-scale movie production and circulation. Organized amateur moviemaking was a significant phenomenon that spawned dozens of clubs and thousands of participants producing experimental, nonfiction, or short-subject narratives. Rooted in an examination of surviving films, this book traces the contexts of "advanced" amateur cinema and articulates the broad aesthetic and stylistic tendencies of amateur films.

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American Empire

Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization

Neil Smith

An American Empire, constructed over the last century, long ago overtook European colonialism, and it has been widely assumed that the new globalism it espoused took us "beyond geography." Neil Smith debunks that assumption, offering an incisive argument that American globalism had a distinct geography and was pieced together as part of a powerful geographical vision. The power of geography did not die with the twilight of European colonialism, but it did change fundamentally. That the inauguration of the American Century brought a loss of public geographical sensibility in the United States was itself a political symptom of the emerging empire. This book provides a vital geographical-historical context for understanding the power and limits of contemporary globalization, which can now be seen as representing the third of three distinct historical moments of U.S. global ambition.

The story unfolds through a decisive account of the career of Isaiah Bowman (1878–1950), the most famous American geographer of the twentieth century. For nearly four decades Bowman operated around the vortex of state power, working to bring an American order to the global landscape. An explorer on the famous Machu Picchu expedition of 1911 who came to be known first as "Woodrow Wilson’s geographer," and later as Frankin D. Roosevelt’s, Bowman was present at the creation of U.S. liberal foreign policy.

A quarter-century later, Bowman was at the center of Roosevelt’s State Department, concerned with the disposition of Germany and heightened U.S. access to European colonies; he was described by Dean Acheson as a key "architect of the United Nations." In that period he was a leader in American science, served as president of Johns Hopkins University, and became an early and vociferous cold warrior. A complicated, contradictory, and at times controversial figure who was very much in the public eye, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Bowman’s career as a geographer in an era when the value of geography was deeply questioned provides a unique window into the contradictory uses of geographical knowledge in the construction of the American Empire. Smith’s historical excavation reveals, in broad strokes yet with lively detail, that today's American-inspired globalization springs not from the 1980s but from two earlier moments in 1919 and 1945, both of which ended in failure. By recharting the geography of this history, Smith brings the politics—and the limits—of contemporary globalization sharply into focus.

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American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary

The Cambridge Turn

Scott MacDonald

American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary is a critical history of American filmmakers crucial to the development of ethnographic film and personal documentary. The Boston and Cambridge area is notable for nurturing these approaches to documentary film via institutions such as the MIT Film Section and the Film Study Center, the Carpenter Center and the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard. Scott MacDonald uses pragmatism’s focus on empirical experience as a basis for measuring the groundbreaking achievements of such influential filmmakers as John Marshall, Robert Gardner, Timothy Asch, Ed Pincus, Miriam Weinstein, Alfred Guzzetti, Ross McElwee, Robb Moss, Nina Davenport, Steve Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, Michel Negroponte, John Gianvito, Alexander Olch, Amie Siegel, Ilisa Barbash, and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. By exploring the cinematic, personal, and professional relationships between these accomplished filmmakers, MacDonald shows how a pioneering, engaged, and uniquely cosmopolitan approach to documentary developed over the past half century.



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American Klezmer

Its Roots and Offshoots

Mark Slobin

Klezmer, the Yiddish word for a folk instrumental musician, has come to mean a person, a style, and a scene. This musical subculture came to the United States with the late-nineteenth-century Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Although it had declined in popularity by the middle of the twentieth century, this lively music is now enjoying recognition among music fans of all stripes. Today, klezmer flourishes in the United States and abroad in the world music and accompany Jewish celebrations. The outstanding essays collected in this volume investigate American klezmer: its roots, its evolution, and its spirited revitalization.

The contributors to American Klezmer include every kind of authority on the subject--from academics to leading musicians--and they offer a wide range of perspectives on the musical, social, and cultural history of klezmer in American life. The first half of this volume concentrates on the early history of klezmer, using folkloric sources, records of early musicians unions, and interviews with the last of the immigrant musicians. The second part of the collection examines the klezmer "revival" that began in the 1970s. Several of these essays were written by the leaders of this movement, or draw on interviews with them, and give firsthand accounts of how klezmer is transmitted and how its practitioners maintain a balance between preservation and innovation.

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American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species

Strangers on the Land

Peter Coates

Sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose, humans have transported plants and animals to new habitats around the world. Arriving in ever-increasing numbers to American soil, recent invaders have competed with, preyed on, hybridized with, and carried diseases to native species, transforming our ecosystems and creating anxiety among environmentalists and the general public. But is American anxiety over this crisis of ecological identity a recent phenomenon? Charting shifting attitudes to alien species since the 1850s, Peter Coates brings to light the rich cultural and historical aspects of this story by situating the history of immigrant flora and fauna within the wider context of human immigration. Through an illuminating series of particular invasions, including the English sparrow and the eucalyptus tree, what he finds is that we have always perceived plants and animals in relation to ourselves and the polities to which we belong. Setting the saga of human relations with the environment in the broad context of scientific, social, and cultural history, this thought-provoking book demonstrates how profoundly notions of nationality and debates over race and immigration have shaped American understandings of the natural world.

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The American Research University from World War II to World Wide Web

Governments, the Private Sector, and the Emerging Meta-University

Charles M. Vest

Forty years after Clark Kerr coined the term multiversity, the American research university has continued to evolve into a complex force for social and economic good. This volume provides a unique opportunity to explore the current state of the research university system. Charles M. Vest, one of the leading advocates for autonomy for American higher education, offers a multifaceted view of the university at the beginning of a new century. With a complex mission and funding structure, the university finds its international openness challenged by new security concerns and its ability to contribute to worldwide opportunity through sharing and collaboration dramatically expanded by the Internet. In particular, Vest addresses the need to nurture broad access to our universities and stay true to the fundamental mission of creating opportunity.

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American Sexual Character

Sex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports

Miriam G. Reumann

When Alfred Kinsey's massive studies Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female appeared in 1948 and 1953, their detailed data spurred an unprecedented public discussion of the nation's sexual practices and ideologies. As they debated what behaviors were normal or average, abnormal or deviant, Cold War Americans also celebrated and scrutinized the state of their nation, relating apparent changes in sexuality to shifts in its political structure, economy, and people. American Sexual Character employs the studies and the myriad responses they evoked to examine national debates about sexuality, gender, and Americanness after World War II. Focusing on the mutual construction of postwar ideas about national identity and sexual life, this wide-ranging, shrewd, and lively analysis explores the many uses to which these sex surveys were put at a time of extreme anxiety about sexual behavior and its effects on the nation.

Looking at real and perceived changes in masculinity, female sexuality, marriage, and homosexuality, Miriam G. Reumann develops the notion of "American sexual character," sexual patterns and attitudes that were understood to be uniquely American and to reflect contemporary transformations in politics, social life, gender roles, and culture. She considers how apparent shifts in sexual behavior shaped the nation's workplaces, homes, and families, and how these might be linked to racial and class differences.

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Americanizing the Movies and "Movie-Mad" Audiences, 1910-1914

Richard Abel

This engaging, deeply researched study provides the richest and most nuanced picture we have to date of cinema—both movies and movie-going—in the early 1910s. At the same time, it makes clear the profound relationship between early cinema and the construction of a national identity in this important transitional period in the United States. Richard Abel looks closely at sensational melodramas, including westerns (cowboy, cowboy-girl, and Indian pictures), Civil War films (especially girl-spy films), detective films, and animal pictures—all popular genres of the day that have received little critical attention. He simultaneously analyzes film distribution and exhibition practices in order to reconstruct a context for understanding moviegoing at a time when American cities were coming to grips with new groups of immigrants and women working outside the home. Drawing from a wealth of research in archive prints, the trade press, fan magazines, newspaper advertising, reviews, and syndicated columns—the latter of which highlight the importance of the emerging star system—Abel sheds new light on the history of the film industry, on working-class and immigrant culture at the turn of the century, and on the process of imaging a national community.

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Amphibian Declines

The Conservation Status of United States Species

Michael Lannoo

This benchmark volume documents in comprehensive detail a major environmental crisis: rapidly declining amphibian populations and the disturbing developmental problems that are increasingly prevalent within many amphibian species. Horror stories on this topic have been featured in the scientific and popular press over the past fifteen years, invariably asking what amphibian declines are telling us about the state of the environment. Are declines harbingers of devastated ecosystems or simply weird reflections of a peculiar amphibian world?

This compendium—presenting new data, reviews of current literature, and comprehensive species accounts—reinforces what scientists have begun to suspect, that amphibians are a lens through which the state of the environment can be viewed more clearly. And, that the view is alarming and presages serious concerns for all life, including that of our own species.

The first part of this work consists of more than fifty essays covering topics from the causes of declines to conservation, surveys and monitoring, and education. The second part consists of species accounts describing the life history and natural history of every known amphibian species in the United States.

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Anatomy of Sound

Norman Corwin and Media Authorship

Jacob Smith

This collection of essays examines one of the most important, yet understudied, media authors of all time—Norman Corwin—using him as a critical lens to consider the history of multimedia authorship, particularly in the realm of sound. Known for seven decades as the “poet laureate” of radio, Corwin is most famous for his radio dramas, which reached tens of millions of listeners around the world and contributed to radio drama’s success as a mass media form in the 1930s and 1940s. But Corwin was a pioneer in multiple media, including cinema, theater, TV, public service broadcasting, journalism, and even cantata. In each of these areas, Corwin had a distinctive approach to sonic aesthetics and mastery of multiple aspects of media production, relying in part on his inventive atmospheric effects in the studio both prerecorded, and, more impressively, live in real time. From the front lines of World War II to his role as Chief of Special Projects for United Nations Radio and his influence on media today, the political and social aspect of Corwin’s work is woven into these essays. With a foreword by Michele Hilmes and contributions from Thomas Doherty, Mary Ann Watson, Shawn VanCour, David Ossman and others, this volume cements Corwin’s reputation as perhaps the greatest writer in the history of radio, while also showing that his long career is a neglected model of multimedia authorship.

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