“On Not Narrating the History of Feminism and Film” poses two questions: What happened to women in the early silent film industries, and why don't we know about them? While the author and others have addressed the first question elsewhere at recent international conferences and in publication, the second remains largely unanswered and is taken up here. It is specific to the field of feminism and film and media studies, where in the 1970s moment of feminist film theory, the powerful paradigm of “no women” or woman as “absent” could be taken as either theoretical or empirical. The question arises as to how to write a narrative account given earlier prohibitions against narrative and empirical work, even when that very kind of work has discovered evidence of women working in significant roles in early film industries worldwide.

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