Observers—sociologists, reformers, inspectors, journalists—have been interested in cinema's audiences virtually since the medium's emergence. Their observations constitute a rich source base for scholars that gives us access, however oblique, into the experiences of moviegoers. As these sources show, motion picture exhibition has been a dynamic social space for subjects marked by gender, race, class, national or regional identity, and age. These various vectors of identity, quite often in concert, shaped how audiences responded to what they saw on the screen, the performative milieu of the theater, and the discursive space of fan magazines and other print venues that published news and advertisements about motion pictures. Around the world, women's filmgoing became a particularly vexed topic, and women emerged as savvy observers of cinema's role in modern society.1 In this short essay, I trace a genealogy (not the genealogy) of feminist scholarship on audiences, sometimes referred to as historical spectatorship,...
Audiences and Moviegoing
Laura Isabel Serna is an an associate professor in the Divison of Cinema and Media Studies in the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. She is the author of Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age (Duke University Press, 2014), as well as articles and essays on silent film in Mexico, Latino/a stardom, and other topics.
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Laura Isabel Serna; Audiences and Moviegoing. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2018; 4 (2): 25–30. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.2.25
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