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Classical Hollywood Scholarly Interest Group (Founded 2015)
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I. Mission Statement

The study of classical Hollywood has long formed an important part of the discipline of film studies, from auteurism and 1970s film theory to the “historical turn” of the 1980s and 90s. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies (with its earlier incarnation as the Society for Cinema Studies) has been a natural home for this work, and key work and debates in the field emerged at the annual conference and in the pages of Cinema Journal. More recently, a fuller recognition of the scholarship on contemporary media and cinema has driven SCMS’s growth and changed the role of classical cinema scholarship in the Society, but theoretical and historical scholarship on studio-era cinema remains a vital area, strengthened, in fact, by newer currents in the field. The Classical Hollywood Scholarly Interest Group seeks to provide a home in SCMS for members working on studio-era cinema and to increase the visibility of their scholarship.

Classical Hollywood studies today is responding to a number of changes in the field and within film culture in general. The availability of films, via video, cable TV, and digital forms, has radically transformed our understanding of the period, both popularly and academically. Accordingly, a generational difference from the period compared to the wealth of scholarship in the 1970s and 80s means that scholars have a different relation to the period and are asking different questions. Scholarship has increasingly reappraised the criticism contemporary to the films themselves, opening up a dynamic account of the history of writing on film. The scholars of "useful cinema" have impacted how we see even the history of entertainment cinema. Work in other areas, such as transitional cinema, have challenged and refined canonical accounts of classical cinema. New concepts, such as production culture and creative industries, have inspired a fresh look at older cinemas. Theories of transnational cinema challenge the isolation of Hollywood in the study of 20th-century cinema. The SIG encourages the cross-pollination of new methodologies while furthering the research into the history and aesthetics of one of the dominant entertainment mass media of the 20th century.

The Group does not impose a strict boundary for the Classical era but uses the term to provide a common rubric for cinema stretching from the 1920s to the 1960s. There already is an active Silent Cinema SIG, and while the Classical Hollywood SIG is happy to foster collaboration with silent cinema scholars, the focus of the SIG is on classical Hollywood’s sound-cinema period. While the annual conference and the journal have provided a venue for much classical Hollywood scholarship, a collective form of debate, discussion, pedagogical reflection, and scholarly agenda setting has often been missing. The Classical Hollywood SIG can serve as such a scholarly community and in the process bridge the rich, long-standing tradition of classical-cinema scholarship with new challenges and opportunities that the contemporary media landscape presents to the research and teaching of classical Hollywood cinema.

II. Goals and Objectives

  1. To provide a broad scholarly home for SCMS members working on classical Hollywood, regardless of methodological approach;
  2. To work with the Executive Committee and each year’s Conference Program Committee as a source of expertise for the study of studio-era cinema.
  3. To support Cinema Journal and other publications and to encourage their inclusion of classical-cinema scholarship;
  4. To work with other SCMS groups, including caucuses and scholarly-interest groups, to develop relevant conference events or workshops;
  5. To serve as a forum for members to share scholarship or news and to develop conference panel/workshop collaborations;
  6. To facilitate conversation between film historians and film theorists working on classical cinema;
  7. To assess and seek opportunities for working with arts institutions dedicated to the preservation, exhibition, or research of classical Hollywood films;
  8. To network with international scholars outside of SCMS working in the field;
  9. To develop an online and social media presence to aid in many of the above objectives.

III. Bylaws

  1. The members of the Classical Cinema Interest Group shall be members in good standing of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
  2. Official business meetings will be held once a year during and at the location of that year’s SCMS conference.
  3. Two members from the Group shall serve as Co-Chairs for staggered terms of three years each. The Co-Chairs shall be elected at the Group’s first meeting; since this meeting will be the first, the initial Co-Chair terms will stagger, and one member will run for a three-year term and the second will run for a two-year term. All subsequent terms will be for three years.
  4. The Co-Chairs shall submit a request every year to the Program Committee of the SCMS conference for a time and space to meet, as well as funding to support relevant programming (in response to the annual call made by the Committee to SIGs).
  5. On a volunteer basis, a graduate student member will serve as the Graduate Representative for the SIG. The grad student representative works together with the SCMS Grad Student Rep to the Executive Council on any relevant issues, and can represent the Group at the annual New Member Orientation event that happens at every SCMS conference. The position is filled by self-nomination at the Group’s conference meeting, for a term of 2 to 3 years. If more than one member is interested in serving, the Group will choose the representative by majority vote.
  6. At all meetings of the Group, ten members shall constitute a quorum for transaction of business. The vote of the majority of members present at a meeting at which a quorum is present constitutes the action of the Group.
  7. When issues are submitted to the members of the Group for vote via e-mail, the members shall have seven business days to respond. The subject line of the e-mail shall contain the word "vote” to alert the members to act.
  8. Action on behalf of the Group may be taken without a meeting if a majority of the members of the Group provide consent by writing or by e-mail. The written consents shall be filed with the minutes of the next meeting.

Contact: Chris Cagle, Temple University



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