Since its inception in the early 1960s, Cinema Journal has served as the locus for conversations and self-reflection among members of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, featuring discussions of pedagogy, conference proceedings, methods and practices, crises in academic publishing and the humanities, scholarly legacies, and special issues affecting SCMS, all in addition to the cutting-edge scholarly debates of its articles. With the publication of the Fall 2018 issue, Cinema Journal officially became the JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. The decision to rename the journal was borne out of an effort to better reflect the diversity of voices and disciplinary perspectives within SCMS and to break down perceived barriers surrounding the field’s journal of record. As we launch our first issue under this new title, we are not closing the door on Cinema Journal’s long history. Instead, this special, retrospective issue celebrates the continuity between JCMS and its predecessor, making some of our favorite articles from the past open-access for the future.
The articles contained in this Cinema Journal retrospective were curated based on suggestions from our current Editorial Board, who identified the works most influential to their individual scholarly perspectives. We do not intend to form a canon; rather, these articles emphasize a trajectory in the many spirited debates within cinema and media studies over the last fifty years. Following the publication of Cinema Journal’s first television article in 1985, Patrice Petro’s “Mass Culture and the Feminine” (Spring 1986) took a stand for the legitimacy of feminist television theory within a male-dominated discipline primarily committed to filmic inquiry. That same decade, Linda Williams and Miriam Hansen blew open the rhetorical bounds of American cinema in their now-iconic works of feminist film theory. In 1990, Chon Noriega’s study of Hollywood film reviews offered new historical methodologies for queer readings of mainstream, cinematic discourse. In the 2000s, Michael Zryd’s “The Academy and the Avant-Garde” and Manishita Dass’s “The Crowd Outside the Lettered City” each challenged established practices in the study of moving images, institutions, and audiences, shedding new light on overlooked topics in the field. We conclude this retrospective with two In Focus dossiers that feature emerging conversations in marginalized areas: “Queer Approaches to Film, Television, and Digital Media” (Winter 2014) and a wide-ranging collection of essays on black media by SCMS’s African-American Caucus (Summer 2014). As we look back on Cinema Journal’s long history, JCMS is honored to continue this legacy in the present and future of the field.