- Introduction from the Editor
Issue 42.2 of Film & History examines the adolescent years of film—the 1920s and 1930s—a time of extraordinary, yet awkward, growth in the industry. The first two essays address the evolution of censorship. Stephen Weinberger describes the political and social agendas at work behind Hollywood’s anxious efforts to shape film content—efforts that culminated in the 1950s and 1960s with a number of surprising contradictions. Kyle Edwards describes the catand-mouse relationship between a then-fledgling production company (Universal) and the changing stream of censors during the Thirties—relationships that culminated in irony for film audiences. The second two essays address the link between ethos and narrative structure in the 1930s. Looking at the cultural hierarchy between Britain and India, Cameron McFarlane and Ann-Barbara Graff reveal an intractable submissiveness in a film aiming to promote a nation’s independence. Gregory Smith, by contrast, explains how an early Hitchcock film at first mocks and then redeems upper-class British sensibilities operating within a presumably subordinate culture.
As a whole, the essays expose the remarkable ironies that defined a maturing industry and a maturing audience. The essays remind us, then, that art is no more static as a formal construct than people are as a social construct. Art can grow, people can grow, cultures can grow. There is a backward and a forward…until, of course, we read the essay that shows us how forward we—now backward—used to be. (Perhaps some art, because it renders experience in a form so fine and so deep, never does get old.) But that essay will have to wait for the next issue.
As I announced at the 2012 conference, the journal has moved to Lawrence University (Appleton, WI). We are as excited about this elevation of the journal as we are about the acceleration of the Film & History conferences to an annual pace, which is the standard for major scholarly associations. Our next conference—in 2013—will treat a topic so deeply embedded in the production, distribution, reception, and teaching of film that its complexity can boggle the best of us: money. It is a lens, a prop, a character, a stage, a story, a history, a culture, and even an aesthetic. Look for the Call for Papers in the coming weeks.
Finally, I want to congratulate our winner of the 2012 Director’s Award for Management of Conference Scholarship—Monica Cyrino (University of New Mexico)—as well as our two Honorable Mentions, Gerald Duchovnay and Karen Ritzenhoff. The Film & History Conference prides itself not just on the scholarship of its participants but on their collegiality, and all of our area chairs, especially these three, brought such virtues into focus with brilliance. The F&H staff look forward to seeing all of you next year. [End Page 4]