In the second wave of feminism it was enough to say that Antonia Dickson co-wrote History of The Kinetograph, the Kinetoscope and the Kineto-Phonograph (1895) with her inventor brother William Kennedy Laurie Dickson. But in a new moment, I utilize Catherine Gallagher’s concept of “counterfactual speculation” as a “thought experiment,” offering a fuller examination of the time between 1893 and 1896 when Antonia was involved in the experiments around the “projecting” Kinetoscope. “What if Antonia Dickson Had Invented the Kinetoscope?” raises the question of historical outcome, empirical evidence, and causality, offering a way around uncritical reliance on the traditions of historical narrative and testing a new methodology for feminism and film.
Counterfactual Speculation: What if Antonia Dickson Had Invented the Kinetoscope?
Jane M. Gaines is a professor of film at Columbia University, and Professor Emerita of Literature and English at Duke University who in 2018 received the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Distinguished Career Award. She is author of three award-winning books: Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice and the Law (UNC, 1991); Fire and Desire: Mixed Race Movies in the Silent Era (Chicago, 2001); and Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? (Illinois, 2018). In 2022 she received an honorary doctorate from Stockholm University in Sweden. She also works on philosophy of history, intellectual property, and documentary radicalism.
Jane M. Gaines; Counterfactual Speculation: What if Antonia Dickson Had Invented the Kinetoscope?. Feminist Media Histories 1 July 2022; 8 (3): 8–34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2022.8.3.8
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