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Useful Cinema + Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[T]he 13 case studies nicely illustrate the variety of institutional settings in the US that exploited the cinematic medium to shape thinking, tastes, and behaviors throughout the 20th century. . . . The overall results are engaging, provocative, and useful. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty/professionals; general readers.“ - J. I. Deutsch, Choice


“Charles Acland offers here a complementary (and alternative) history of media engagement…. provides significant food for thought…. [E]xperimental film serves perhaps an unusual, but still a legitimate, purpose.” - Liz Giuffre, Media International Australia


“A wholly solid collection of new research in a blossoming area of study. Each of Useful Cinema’s articles offers unique, substantial, and interesting work that will engage and benefit any scholar even peripherally interested in the socio-cultural and socio-political dimensions of educational or industrial film. . . . As broad as its subject matter may be, the volume is unified by a rigorous standard of archival scholarship, a remarkable tendency to build interest and delight in unexpected topics, and a consistency of accessible writing that clearly illuminates how film and media are used to write and rewrite social histories.” - Andrew James Myers, Mediascape


“Education is commonly understood as opposed to entertainment. But this rich and fascinating volume puts the lie to such an assumption. It shows how, across the decades, ‘useful cinema’ was measured in relation to Hollywood entertainment and indeed interacted with it in a complex fashion. Useful Cinema does so through essays that are themselves compelling and captivating, eloquent and enjoyable. The book is itself, in other words, a masterful blend of the entertaining and the useful.”—Dana Polan, New York University


“This valuable book reveals how moving images proliferated beyond the spectacular confines of theaters to become deeply embedded in everyday life, cultures, and institutions. The publication of this fascinating anthology is a welcome sign that film historians are starting to forgo their longtime fascination with mass-produced glamour and make peace with cinema’s most utilitarian, and numerically dominant, genres.”—Rick Prelinger, founder of Prelinger Archives

About the Author

Charles R. Acland is Professor and Concordia University Research Chair in Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes, and Global Culture, also published by Duke University Press, and the editor of Residual Media.

Haidee Wasson is Associate Professor in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University. She is the author of Museum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema and a co-editor of Inventing Film Studies, also published by Duke University Press.

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