A Dynamic Frame: The Moving Camera, Hollywood Narrative, and American Modernity


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2014-2015


This project offers a book-length history of camera movement in Hollywood cinema, situating the cinematic device of the moving camera within a technological, industrial, and aesthetic context, while arguing that Hollywood filmmakers used this formal strategy to celebrate and sometimes challenge American modernity. With an emphasis on films set in characteristically modern spaces such as office buildings and train stations, this history traces several recurring motifs of camera movement from the 1920s to the 1970s, considering how the mobile frame expresses ideas about the dynamism, seriality, and connectedness of an increasingly urban and industrial consumer capitalist culture. The research will be accompanied by a companion digital resource featuring illustrative clips from numerous landmark films.