At a time when the expanded projection of US political, military, economic and cultural power draws intensified global concern, understanding how that country understands itself seems more important than ever.
This collection of new critical essays tackles this old problem in a new way, by examining some of the hundreds of US films that announce themselves as titularly 'American'. From early travelogues to contemporary comedies, national nomination has been an abiding characteristic of American motion pictures, heading the work of Porter, Guy-Blaché, DeMille, Capra, Sternberg, Vidor, Minnelli and Mankiewicz. More recently, George Lucas, Paul Schrader, John Landis and Edward James Olmos have made their own contributions to Hollywood’s Americana.
What does this national branding signify? Which versions of Americanism are valorized, and which marginalized or excluded? Out of which social and historical contexts do they emerge, and for and by whom are they constructed?
Edited by Mandy Merck, the collection contains detailed analyses of such films as The Vanishing American, American Madness, An American in Paris, American Graffiti, American Gigolo, American Pie and many more.
Table of Contents
Introduction Mandy Merck 1. The Little American Kristen Whissel 2. The Vanishing American William R Handley 3. American Madness Eric Smoodin 4. An American Romance Rembert Hüser 5. An American in Paris Pam Cook 6. The Quiet American Peter William Evans 7. The Americanization of Emily Sharon Willis 8. American Graffiti Barry Langford 9. American Gigolo H. N. Lukes 10. An American Werewolf in London Diane Negra 11. American Me Ana María Dopico 12. American History X Paul Smith 13. American Pie Mandy Merck 14. American Splendor Esther Leslie
Mandy Merck is Professor of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of Perversions: Deviant Readings (1993), In Your Face: Nine Sexual Studies (2000) and Hollywood's American Tragedies (forthcoming 2007). She is editor of After Diana (1998) and co-editor of Coming Out of Feminism (1998) and The Art of Tracey Emin (2002).