Classical Hollywood Cinema and Film Studies: Historicizing Theory, Theorizing History A Lecture by Veronica Pravadelli Sept 24
Wednesday, September 24th, 6:15pm
Department of Cinema Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
Veronica Pravadelli is a Professor of Cinema at Roma Tre University where she directs the Center for American Studies. Her prize-winning Italian-language book is forthcoming in English as Classic Hollywood: Lifestyles and Film Styles of American Cinema, 1930-1960 (University of Illinois Press). Her talk, drawn from this book, offers a critical reading of the different methodologies that have developed in Film Studies in relation to Hollywood cinema.
Classical Hollywood cinema has been the key filmic form in shaping Film Studies in the last 40 years or so. One can argue that the discipline itself has developed through the study of Hollywood cinema during the Studio Era. From Bellour’s semiotic-psychoanalytic approach to the theory of the “progressive text”, to Feminist Film Theory, to Bordwell’s neo-formalist approach, etc.: each new methodology has built up its conceptual framework by considering first of all classical American cinema. The centrality of Hollywood cinema was first put into question by the new historical approach that emerged in the late ‘80s and which took early cinema as its object of study. Working within the domain of modernity, scholars like Gunning and Hansen redefined the field in many ways. Besides working primarily on early cinema they also displaced the centrality of theory and of film analysis by advocating a convergence of theory and history. This “paradigm shift” heavily redefined Feminist Film Theory and spurred a new historical trend in Women/Gender Film Studies which keeps producing important work.Starting from these assumptions, my talk will offer a critical reading of the different methodologies that have developed in Film Studies in relation to Hollywood cinema. Then I will show why, to my mind, a convergence of history and theory along the lines initiated by Gunning and Hansen also suits an interpretation of classical Hollywood cinema. I will detail my position by historicizing one of the most influential concepts, namely Gunning’s (and Mulvey’s) notion of attraction.
Veronica Pravadelli is a Professor of Cinema at Roma Tre University where she directs the Center for American Studies (CRISA). She has been Visiting Professor at Brown University. She is the author of several books and essays on Hollywood cinema, Gender Studies and Italian post-neorealist cinema. Among her publications: Il cinema di Luchino Visconti (2000), Performance, Rewriting, Identity: Chantal Akerman’s Postmodern Cinema (2000) and Alfred Hitchcock: Notorious (2003). Her work in English includes essays on Hollywood cinema, Chantal Akerman, Feminist Theory, and Visconti. She is a member of the editorial board of several journals and book series, such as La valle dell’Eden, Imago. Studi di cinema e media and European Journal of Women’s Studies. She is also a member of the International Advisory Board of NECSUS-European Journal of Media Studies. Her book on classical Hollywood cinema, La grande Hollywood. Stili di vita e di regia nel cinema classico americano (2007), won two prizes for Best Book in Film Studies and is forthcoming in English with University of Illinois Press as Classic Hollywood: Lifestyles and Film Styles of American Cinema, 1930-1960. Her talk is drawn from this book.
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