New Books in Film podkast

Kristian Petersen, "Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology" (Ilex Foundation, 2021)

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Kristian Petersen’s new edited volume Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (Ilex Foundation and Harvard University Press, 2021), introduces the subject of Muslims and film. The volume contains nineteen chapters that engage a range of film industries, including Hollywood and Bollywood, but also movies from the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Italy, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and much more. This collection challenges its readers to taking seriously the complex ways in Muslims are represented in films throughout the globe, be it through a close analysis of a film, such as Wajda, or films about North American Muslims, such as Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali. In other instances, authors guide the readers through accessible analysis of particular Muslims in movies and cinematography, which lead to discussions of islamophobia, diaspora politics, issues of gender and sexuality, identity politics and much more. The overall study then welcomes viewers to rethink the ways in which films can be studied as a critical text and opens up possibilities for multidimensional engagement with Muslims in diverse film genres, such as sci-fi, romantic comedies, and biopics. This accessibly written volume will be a great text to incorporate into courses on Islam in film or popular culture, and will be of interest to students of Islam, gender and sexuality studies, media and cultural studies, diaspora and immigration studies and much more. Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

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    Christie Milliken and Steve F. Anderson, "Reclaiming Popular Documentary" (Indiana UP, 2021)


    The documentary has achieved rising popularity over the past two decades, thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Despite this fact, documentary studies still tends to favor works that appeal primarily to specialists and scholars. Reclaiming Popular Documentary (Indiana UP, 2021) reverses this longstanding tendency by showing that documentaries can be--and are--made for mainstream or commercial audiences. Editors Christie Milliken and Steve Anderson, who consider popular documentary to be a subfield of documentary studies, embrace an expanded definition of popular to acknowledge documentary's many evolving forms, including branded entertainment, fictional hybrids, and works with audience participation. Together, these essays address emerging documentary forms--including web-docs, virtual reality, immersive journalism, viral media, interactive docs, and video-on-demand--and offer the critical tools that viewers need in order to analyze contemporary documentaries and consider how they are persuaded by and represented in documentary media. By combining perspectives of scholars and makers, Reclaiming Popular Documentary brings new understandings and international perspectives to familiar texts using critical models that will engage media scholars and fans alike. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Cyrus R. K. Patell, "Lucasfilm: Filmmaking, Philosophy, and the Star Wars Universe" (Bloomsbury, 2021)


    From A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker and beyond, this book offers the first complete assessment and philosophical exploration of the Star Wars universe. Lucasfilm: Filmmaking, Philosophy, and the Star Wars Universe (Bloomsbury, 2021) examines the ways in which these iconic films were shaped by global cultural mythologies and world cinema, as well as philosophical ideas from the fields of aesthetics and political theory, and now serve as a platform for public philosophy. Cyrus R. K. Patell also looks at how this ever-expanding universe of cultural products and enterprises became a global brand and asks: can a corporate entity be considered a "filmmaker and philosopher"? More than any other film franchise, Lucasfilm's Star Wars has become part of the global cultural imagination. The new generation of Lucasfilm artists is full of passionate fans of the Star Wars universe, who have now been given the chance to build on George Lucas's oeuvre. Within these pages, Patell explores what it means for films and their creators to become part of cultural history in this unprecedented way. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Leslie Barnes and Joseph Mai, "The Cinema of Rithy Panh: Everything Has a Soul" (Rutgers UP, 2021)


    In this episode I chatted with Leslie Barnes and Joseph Mai, two scholars of film, about their new anthology The Cinema of Rithy Panh: Everything Has a Soul out with Rutgers University Press, 2021. As a child Rithy Panh survived the Khmer Rouge regime yet lost his immediate family during those awful years. He was fortunate enough to emigrate to France where he studied film and became a prolific director. Rithy Panh is now the most important film maker in Cambodia and in the Khmer diaspora. Committed to mentoring a new generation of Cambodian storytellers, he helped found the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center which trains young Khmer film makers. The essays in The Cinema of Rithy Panh: Everything Has a Soul cover his diverse offerings but focus on the memory of the disaster of the Khmer Rouge years, as well as the 1976-1975 civil war and the Vietnamese occupation of the 1980s. Rithy Panh also engages the history of French colonialism and the explores social difficulties of workers caught in neo-liberal development projects. Leslie Barnes is a Senior Lecturer in French Studies in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at Australian National University. Dr. Barnes has written Vietnam and the Colonial Condition of French Literature (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). Joseph Mai is an Associate Professor of French at Clemson University. Dr. Mai has published Robert Gay dig e on Guédiguian (Manchester University Press, 2017) and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (University of Illinois Press, 2010). Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Richard Grusin and Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece, "Ends of Cinema" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)


    At the dawn of the digital era in the final decades of the twentieth century, film and media studies scholars grappled with the prospective end of what was deemed cinema: analog celluloid production, darkened public movie theaters, festival culture. The notion of the “end of cinema” had already been broached repeatedly over the course of the twentieth century—from the introduction of sound and color to the advent of television and video—and in Ends of Cinema (U Minnesota Press, 2020), contributors reinvigorate this debate to contemplate the ends, as well as directions and new beginnings, of cinema in the twenty-first century. In this volume, scholars at the forefront of film and media studies interrogate multiple potential “ends” of cinema: its goals and spaces, its relationship to postcinema, its racial dynamics and environmental implications, and its theoretical and historical conclusions. Moving beyond the predictable question of digital versus analog, the scholars gathered here rely on critical theory and historical research to consider cinema alongside its media companions: television, the gallery space, digital media, and theatrical environments. Ends of Cinema underscores the shared project of film and media studies to open up what seems closed off, and to continually reinvent approaches that seem unresponsive. Richard Grusin is director of the Center for 21st Century Studies and distinguished professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is editor of The Nonhuman Turn, Anthropocene Feminism, and After Extinction, all published by the University of Minnesota Press. Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece is associate professor of English and film studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and author of The Optical Vacuum: Spectatorship and Modernized American Theater Architecture. Gustavo E. Gutiérrez Suárez is a MSc. in Anthropology, and BA. in Social Communication. His areas of interest include Film theory and aesthetics. You can follow him on Twitter vía @GustavoEGSuarez. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Luci Marzola, "Engineering Hollywood: Technology, Technicians, and the Science of Building the Studio System" (Oxford UP, 2021)


    Luci Marzola's book Engineering Hollywood: Technology, Technicians, and the Science of Building Studio System (Oxford University Press, 2021) tells the story of the formation of the Hollywood studio system not as the product of a genius producer, but as an industry that brought together creative practices and myriad cutting-edge technologies in ways that had never been seen before.  Using extensive archival research, Marzola's book examines the role of technicians, engineers, and trade organizations in creating a stable technological infrastructure on which the studio system rested for decades. Here, the studio system is seen as a technology-dependent business with connections to the larger American industrial world. By focusing on the role played by technology, we see a new map of the studio system beyond the backlots of Los Angeles and the front offices in New York. In this study, Hollywood includes the labs of industrial manufacturers, the sales routes of independent firms, the garages of tinkerers, and the clubhouses of technicians' societies. Rather than focusing on the technical improvements in any particular motion picture tool, this book centers on the larger systems and infrastructures for dealing with technology in this creative industry. Engineering Hollywood argues that the American industry was stabilized and able to dominate the motion picture field for decades through collaboration over technologies of everyday use. Hollywood's relationship to its essential technology was fundamentally one of interdependence and cooperation-with manufacturers, trade organizations, and the competing studios. As such, Hollywood could be defined as an industry by participation in a closed system of cooperation that allowed a select group of producers and manufacturers to dominate the motion picture business for decades. Luci Marzola is a film and media historian who writes about the technology, labor, and infrastructure of the American film industry in the silent and classical eras. She teaches in the Department of Film and Media Studies at University of California Irvine and at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Phil Rosenzweig, "Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men" (Fordham UP, 2021)


    Phil Rosenzweig's Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men (Fordham Press, 2021) is the first biography of a great television writer, and the story of his magnum opus In early 1957, a low-budget black and white movie opened across the country. Consisting of little more than a dozen men arguing in a dingy room, it was a failure at the box office and soon faded from view. Today, 12 Angry Men is acclaimed as a movie classic, revered by the critics and beloved by the public, and widely performed as a stage play, touching audiences around the world.  Rosenzweig is a Professor of Business Administration at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he has used 12 Angry Men for many years to teach executives about interpersonal behavior and group dynamics. It is also a favorite of the legal profession for its portrayal of ordinary citizens reaching a just verdict, and widely taught for its depiction of group dynamics and human relations. The book tells two stories: the life of a great writer and the journey of his most famous work, one that ultimately that outshined its author. More than any writer in the Golden Age of Television, Reginald Rose took up vital social issues of the day - from racial prejudice to juvenile delinquency to civil liberties - and made them accessible to a wide audience. His 1960s series, The Defenders, was the finest drama of its age, and set the standard for legal dramas. This book brings Reginald Rose's long and successful career, its origins and accomplishments, into view at long last.  Drawing on extensive research, and brimming with insight, it casts new light on one of America's great dramas - and about its author, a man of immense talent and courage. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Christina Lane, "Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock" (Chicago Review Press, 2020)


    A platinum beauty with an ugly secret; a tall, dark, and handsome husband with murder in his eyes; starkly lit interiors that may or may not include the silhouette of a rotund British gentleman…. This may sound like a catalog of images from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, but it is just as much an encapsulation of the works of Joan Harrison, a studio-era producer, a prolific cinematic storyteller, and a pioneer of female-centered suspense media at mid-century. Harrison remains best known as Alfred Hitchcock’s right-hand woman—that is, to the extent that she is known at all. Christina Lane has written the first-ever book dedicated to the life and art of Joan Harrison, entitled Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, The Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock (Chicago Review Press, February 2020). Born into a middle-class family in Surrey, Harrison took a secretarial job with Alfred Hitchcock as an aimless twenty-something, only to become a producer on films including Foreign Correspondent (1940), Rebecca (1940), and Suspicion (1941). In the 1940s, Harrison branched out, building a solo career producing movies for RKO and Universal Studios, only to return to the Hitchcock fold to run TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962). In this discussion, Lane shares how she uncovered this obscure history, placing this “phantom lady” at the center of her own story. She also discusses the trajectory of Harrison’s career and how she adapted her research for a broader readership. Christina Lane is Professor in the Cinematic Arts Department at the University of Miami and Edgar®-Award winning author of Phantom Lady: Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock. She provides commentary for such outlets as the Daily Mail, CrimeReads and AirMail, and has been a featured guest speaker at the Film Forum, and on NPR and Turner Classic Movies. Annie Berke is the Film Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and author of Their Own Best Creations: Women Writers in Postwar Television (University of California Press, 2022). Her scholarship and criticism has been published in Feminist Media Histories, Public Books, Literary Hub, and Ms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Mathias Clasen, "A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies" (Oxford UP, 2021)


    Films about chainsaw killers, demonic possession, and ghostly intruders. Screaming audiences with sleepless nights or sweat-drenched nightmares in their immediate future. Presumably, almost everybody has experience with horror films. Some people would even characterize themselves as horror fans. But what about the others—the ones who are curious about horror films, but also very, very nervous about them? In A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies (Oxford University Press, 2021), Mathias Clasen, Associate Professor of Literature and Media Studies at Aarhus University, delves into the science of horror cinema in an attempt to address common concerns about the genre. He also asks whether horror films can be a force for good—do horror films have health benefits, can they be aesthetically and morally valuable, and might they even have therapeutic psychological and cultural effects? The book addresses these questions in short, readable chapters, peppered with vivid anecdotes and examples and supported by scientific findings. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Stephen Lee Naish, "Screen Captures: Film in the Age of Emergency" (New Star Books, 2021)


    Movies open a window into our collective soul. In Screen Captures: Film in the Age of Emergency (New Star Books, 2021), Stephen Lee Naish guides us through recent cinematic phenomena that reflect/refract our contemporary political existence. Stephen Lee Naish is a writer, independent researcher, and cultural critic. He is the author of several books on film, politics, music, and pop culture. He lives in Kingston, Ontario. He has appeared on the New Books Network three times for previous books: Create of Die: Essays on the Artistry of Dennis Hopper (2016), Deconstructing Dirty Dancing (2017), Riffs and Meaning (2018) From Star Wars-scope blockbusters and Hollywood coming-of-age comedies to independent horror productions, Naish draws out the ways these movies shape, and are shaped by, their audience's own dissatisfactions. In his discussion of the Star Wars franchise, Naish highlights a conflict between internet discussion-fueled fandom vs the Disney Empire that shares features with the ongoing rebellions depicted in the films themselves. A passionate fan base who can now voice their discontent via the internet is feeding back into the studio's agenda and criticizing the actions of characters within the film and the actors alike. Chapters on the super-heroes genre and disaster movies draw out the climate-based social tensions these reflect. Depictions of masculinity ("Men on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown") on screens large and small bleed into discussions of the work and presence of Nicholas Cage, David Lynch, and Dennis Hopper -- with a side-excursion into Valerie Solanas's strikingly prescient SCUM Manifesto. Stephen Lee Naish's Screen Captures adds a sharpening filter to the film-goer's experience on the big and little screen. Joel Tscherne is an Adjunct History Professor at Southern New Hampshire University. His Twitter handle is @JoelTscherne. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Erin Y. Huang, "Urban Horror: Neoliberal Post-Socialism and the Limits of Visibility" (Duke UP, 2020)


    Erin Y. Huang’s Urban Horror: Neoliberal Post-Socialism and the Limits of Visibility (Duke UP, 2020) is an expansive and ambitious book that explores the affective territory of “neoliberal post-socialist China” as it manifests in contemporary Chinese (language) cinema. Pushing beyond the geographic boundaries of the PRC and the confines of art cinema, Huang’s book reads the post-socialist condition as it manifests in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and across a variety of film genres. The term urban horror, derived from Engels’ writings on the industrial factory and theoretically developed in Huang’s book in conversation with Merleau-Ponty, Lefebvre, and Rancière, defines a “sociopolitical public affect that exceeds comprehension.” This affect, Huang argues, reappears in Chinese cinemas within and beyond the People’s Republic.  In so doing, urban horror rehearses potential revolutionary dissent and resistance in the era of neoliberal post-socialism as it unfolds spaces beyond familiar post-socialist locales. As she works to address the changing grounds of China’s contemporary sociopolitical aesthetics, Huang considers the shifting meanings of the image as it travels between various genres and media materialities, including the intriguing “feminist blockbuster” and immersive cinema experiences. In the following interview, we discuss the questions that frame Huang’s inquiry and delve into the chapters that make up the body of her book. Readers and listeners should look forward not only to hearing about Huang’s elegant theoretical framing, but also to the compelling and lively close readings that showcase her argument across an exciting spectrum of Chinese media products. Julia Keblinska is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Center for Historical Research at the Ohio State University specializing in Chinese media history and comparative socialisms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

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