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Comedy Silent Film Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Women Writer

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – Specters of Slapstick & Silent Film Comediennes

Women explode out of chimneys and melt when sprayed with soda water. Feminist activists play practical jokes to lobby for voting rights, while overworked kitchen maids dismember their limbs to finish their chores on time. In early slapstick films with titles such as Saucy Sue, Mary Jane’s Mishap, Jane on Strike, and The Consequences of Feminism, comediennes exhibit the tensions between joyful laughter and gendered violence. Slapstick comedy often celebrates the exaggeration of make-believe injury. Unlike male clowns, however, these comic actresses use slapstick antics as forms of feminist protest. They spontaneously combust while doing housework, disappear and reappear when sexually assaulted, or transform into men by eating magic seeds—and their absurd metamorphoses evoke the real-life predicaments of female identity in a changing modern world.

Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes reveals the gender politics of comedy and the comedic potentials of feminism through close consideration of hundreds of silent films. As Maggie Hennefeld argues, comedienne catastrophes provide disturbing but suggestive images for comprehending gendered social upheavals in the early twentieth century. At the same time, slapstick comediennes were crucial to the emergence of film language. Women’s flexible physicality offered filmmakers blank slates for experimenting with the visual and social potentials of cinema. Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes poses major challenges to the foundations of our ideas about slapstick comedy and film history, showing how this combustible genre blows open age-old debates about laughter, society, and gender politics.

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Simultaneously hilarious and seriously incisive, Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes is a dazzling demonstration of the way in which the female body in early film comedy is the privileged site for the display of the cinema’s defamiliarization of the world. Hennefeld skillfully links the centrality of women in comic films of mobility and catastrophe to anxieties surrounding their rapidly changing social position. This is a marvelous analysis. (Mary Ann Doane, University of California, Berkeley)

Hennefeld does a remarkable job of framing the politics of early film comedy in relation to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century philosophies of laughter. This is a far-reaching study that will change our understanding of the history of early film slapstick and gender. (Robert J. King, Columbia University)

Hennefeld draws on hundreds of films to reveal the radical interest and specificity of the silent film comediennes who humorously ruptured themselves while negotiating the shifting place of women’s bodies in cinema’s early years. Forging a rigorous third way between “killjoy refusal” and “unruly disruption” using a “Laughing Methodology” to counter misogynist violence, this brilliant book illuminates the vital link between feminist laughter and the slow-burn pleasure of feminist thought. (Karen Redrobe, University of Pennsylvania)

An original and significant book, solidly grounded in comic theory. (Film Quarterly)

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Book Shelf Writer

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan

Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan

Acclaimed media critic J. Hoberman’s masterful and majestic exploration of the Reagan years as seen through the unforgettable movies of the era.

The third book in a brilliant and ambitious trilogy, celebrated cultural and film critic J. Hoberman’s Make My Day is a major new work of film and pop culture history. In it he chronicles the Reagan years, from the waning days of the Watergate scandal when disaster films like Earthquake ruled the box office to the nostalgia of feel-good movies like Rocky and Star Wars, and the delirium of the 1984 presidential campaign and beyond.

Bookended by the Bicentennial celebrations and the Iran-Contra affair, the period of Reagan’s ascendance brought such movie events as JawsApocalypse NowBlade RunnerGhostbustersBlue Velvet, and Back to the Future, as well as the birth of MTV, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the Second Cold War.

An exploration of the synergy between American politics and popular culture, Make My Day is the concluding volume of Hoberman’s Found Illusions trilogy; the first volume, The Dream Life, was described by Slate’s David Edelstein as “one of the most vital cultural histories I’ve ever read”; Film Comment called the second, An Army of Phantoms, “utterly compulsive reading.” Reagan, a supporting player in Hoberman’s previous volumes, here takes center stage as the peer of Indiana Jones and John Rambo, the embodiment of a Hollywood that, even then, no longer existed.

“Singular, stylish and slightly intoxicating in its scope.”
—David Fear, Rolling Stone

“Rigorous, scholarly . . . for readers seeking an insightful, academic meditation on the relationship between media and sociopolitical issues.”
Library Journal

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Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – ‘How To Fly A Horse: The Secret History of Creation’

How To Fly A Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

by Kevin Ashton

To create is human. Technology pioneer Kevin Ashton has experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton demystifies the sacred act, leading us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From the crystallographer’s laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long forgotten woman, to the Ohio bicycle shop where the Wright brothers set out to “fly a horse,” Ashton showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary and usually uncredited acts that lead to our most astounding breakthroughs. Drawing on examples from Mozart to the Muppets, Archimedes to Apple, Kandinsky to a can of Coke, How to Fly a Horse is essential reading for would-be creators and innovators, and also a passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of how “new” comes to be.

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“One of the most creative books on creativity I have ever read, a genuinely inspiring journey through the worlds of art, science, business and culture that will forever change how you think about where new ideas come from.”
William C. Taylor, co-founder, and editor of Fast Company and author of Practically Radical

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“[Ashton’s] is a democratic idea—a scientific version of the American dream. . . . [A]n approachable, thought-provoking book that encourages everyone to be the best they can be.”
The Guardian (London)

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“An inspiring vision of creativity that’s littered with practical advice, and is a cracking read to boot.”
BBC Focus

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How to Fly a Horse solves the mysteries of the invention. Kevin Ashton, the innovator who coined the ‘internet of things,’ shows that creativity is more often the result of ordinary steps than extraordinary leaps. With engrossing stories, provocative studies, and lucid writing, this book is not to be missed.”
—Adam Grant, professor of management at the Wharton School and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take 

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Kevin Ashton led pioneering work on RFID (radio frequency identification) networks, for which he coined the term “the Internet of Things,” and co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT. His writing about innovation and technology has appeared in QuartzMediumThe Atlantic, and The New York Times.

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You can get it here!

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Cinema Comedy Silent Film Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “The Comic Mind” – Gerald Mast

Back Cover of The Comic Mind

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Pt. I: Assumptions, Definitions, and Categories
1. Comic Structures
2. Comic Thought
3. Comic Films—Categories and Definitions
Pt. II: Primitives
4. Jests, Tricks, and the First Comic Personalities
5. Mack Sennett
Pt. III: Chaplin and Keaton
6. Chaplin: From Keystone to Mutual
7. Chaplin: First Nationals and Silent Features
8. Chaplin: Sound Films
9. Keaton
Pt. IV: Other Silent Clowns
10. Harold Lloyd
11. Harry Langdon
12. More Fun Shops
Pt. V: Sound Comedy
13. Sound and Structure
14. Ernst Lubitsch and René Clair
15. Jean Renoir
16. The Dialogue Tradition
17. The Clown Tradition
18. The Ironic Tradition
The Case for Comedy
Notes
Selective Bibliography
Appendix A: Distributors of Comic Films
Appendix B: Photo Credits
Index

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“A great book by Gerald Mast on the art of comedy, the history of comedic actors and films. This is a must read for any film major, director or filmmaker looking to work in the genre of comedy. Plus it’s just a darn good read.”
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Book Shelf Magic Magic

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Magic and Loss – The Internet as Art”

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Just as Susan Sontag did for photography and Marshall McLuhan did for television, Virginia Heffernan (called one of the “best living writers of English prose”) reveals the logic and aesthetics behind the Internet.
Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this deep and thoughtful book, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does.
Life online, in the highly visual, social, portable, and global incarnation rewards certain virtues. The new medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, prolificacy, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how we perceive, experience, and understand the world.
“Readers will be enthralled by Heffernan’s unique take on this popular entity. Tech-savvy readers will be drawn to this book, but the concept of technology as creative expression should also entice art lovers. Most important, readers will be encouraged to appreciate the Internet not only for its ability to connect us to one another and information but also for its beauty.”—Library Journal
“Heffernan is a new species of wizard, able to perform literary magic upon supersonic technology. Her superpower is to remove the technology from technology, leaving the essential art. You might get an epiphany, like I did, of what a masterpiece this internet thing is. Heffernan has the cure for the small thinking that everyday hardware often produces. She generates marvelous insights at the speed of light, warmed up by her well-worn classical soul. It’s a joy and revelation to be under her spell.”—Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants and co-founder of Wired
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