Friday, June 22, 2018

J. E. Smyth

J. E. Smyth is Professor of History at the University of Warwick and author or editor of Reconstructing American Historical Cinema from Cimarron to Citizen Kane (2006), Edna Ferber's Hollywood (2009), Hollywood and the American Historical Film (ed., 2012), Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance (2015), and the BFI classics monograph on From Here to Eternity (2015).

Her new book is Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood.

From Smyth's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You write of Nobody's Girl Friday, “This book is meant to challenge and to inspire people who love Hollywood and believe in gender equality.” What first inspired you to write the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it?

A: When I started out – years ago – as an art historian at Yale, I got fed up when so much of the curriculum focused on celebrating the achievements of dead white men. So I changed majors and moved into film studies, thinking a younger cultural medium would be more gender inclusive.

But academic and popular understandings of film, and particularly Hollywood, were (and for the most part still are) focused on studies of great male directors (“auteurs”) and stylistic theories which claim the male gaze of the camera objectifies and punishes strong women.

It was assumed that women could only get jobs as actresses or secretaries in studio-era Hollywood. They were there to be looked at or to take dictation. It was depressing stuff to read. And I didn’t believe it.

Few historians bothered to look at the collaborative nature of film production during the studio system, or at...[read on]
Learn more about Nobody's Girl Friday at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Nobody's Girl Friday.

My Book, The Movie: Nobody's Girl Friday.

--Marshal Zeringue