Some reflections on cinema history as social history, par Judith Thissen
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Over the last two decades, the New Cinema History has profoundly changed the ways in which film historians approach questions relating to cinema’s functioning as a cultural institution. In particular, it radically shifted the focus away from the films and textual analysis to multimethod approaches centred on the socio-cultural and economic dynamics at work in film exhibition and reception. Drawing on examples from her research on cinemagoing in New York’s immigrant Jewish community, Judith Thissen will discuss the benefits and challenges of doing New Cinema History as social history, arguing that we may need an even more fundamental ‘social turn’ in film historiography if we want to fully understand the place that the cinema occupied in the lives of its audiences.
Judith Thissen is Associate Professor of Cinema History at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her research has been published in numerous edited collections and international journals including Film History, CinéMAS and Théorème. Much of her work focusses on early film culture in New York City, but in recent years she has also turned to questions regarding the interrelationship between cinemagoing and rural modernization in post-war Europe. With Clemens Zimmerman, she edited Cinema Beyond the City: Small-town and Rural Film Culture in Europe (2017).