This year marks the 10th Anniversary of University of Illinois Press’ Women and Film History International series. In collaboration with film historians, Kay Armatage, Jane M. Gaines, and Christine Gledhill, the series was originally devised as a home for new generation of film historians committed to exploring the central role of women as both filmmakers and audiences in the establishment and development of cinema as a dominant form of twentieth-century popular entertainment.
Using extensive archival work and theoretical revisions of early feminist film theory, books in the series traced the careers and trajectories of early women film pioneers: Germaine Dulac, Marie Dressler, and Sarah Bernhardt. Meanwhile Mark Cooper’s award-winning book, Universal Women, examines how women flourished at Universal during the silent era and Marina Dahlquist’s collection, Exporting Perilous Pauline, explores fascinating case studies on film star Pearl White and the circulation of serial film heroines across the globe.
The past year has seen the mission of the series both come into fruition and expand. We published Jane Gaines’ Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? Her book is an eye-opening theoretical intervention that both undergirds and troubles the larger work in the series. She shines a light on pioneering filmmaking women and provides an insightful examination of the historiographical process itself. The book project was supported Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and Jane started the new year with a lecture, screening, and reception to full auditorium as part of the Academy’s Film Scholars Lecture series.
At the same time, we have started to push the boundaries of the series temporally, thematically, and methodologically as we look toward the future. Two great examples will publish later this spring. Shilyh Warren’s Subject to Reality: Women and Documentary Film, places the wave of revolutionary women’s documentary films of the 1970s in the larger history of US documentary film production. Meanwhile, Susan Potter’s Queer Timing: The Emergence of Lesbian Sexuality in Early Cinema uses a playful encounter between historic spectators, on screen figures, and contemporary scholars to explore same-sex eroticism in first decades of cinema.