WHITEWATCHING: CINEMA, RACE AND REGULATION IN THE PROGRESSIVE-ERA UNITED STATES by ERIC NICHOLAS OLUND B.A., University of Minnesota, 1991 M.L.S., University of Minnesota, 2000 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Geography) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA February 2006 © Eric Nicholas Olund, 2006 Abstract Cinema emerged during a period of enormous social change in the United States. Gender relations were changing as the "New Woman" asserted her place in public life on more individualistic grounds, and ethnic relations were changing as vast numbers of Catholic and Jewish "New Immigrants" were changing the face of the growing industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest. Urban reformers, many of whom were themselves New Women as well as professionals characteristic of the corporate capitalism emerging at the time, saw cinema as an opportunity to assimilate immigrants to the self-governing ideals of white, middle-class American subjectivity. They formed the unofficial National Board of Review of Motion Pictures in New York City to review films prior to distribution in voluntary cooperation with the manufacturers. While Progressive era reformers often advocated increasing state intervention in other spheres of activity, they sought to pursue what they termed a constructive agenda for cinema in order to develop its educational and artistic potential and limit the police power of the state to regulating exhibition conditions and prosecuting obscenity. This experiment in governmentality had a racialized geography that went well beyond either the New Immigrants or New York, however. African Americans were moving in large numbers to these same cities from the South, yet these reformers remained willfully ignorant of their new neighbors. Drawing on archival case studies of Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York, with their very different racial, class and sexual politics, this project explores the variable geography of Progressive era cinema regulation and its production of whiteness. Table of Contents Abstract •. i i Table of Contents i i i List of Figures vi List of Abbreviations ix Acknowledgments x Chapter 1 Introduction: Cinema as Social Problem 1 1.1 The "Cheap Theatre" Problem 6 1.1.1 Chicago's Unruly Audiences 7 1.1.2 The New Middle Class and the Production of Whiteness... 11 1.1.3 Racialized Power/Knowledge/Geography 18 1.1.4 Spaces of Danger 23 1.2 From Problem to Opportunity: The Plan of the Study 27 1.2.1 A Note on Method 36 Chapter 2 Sensational Cinema: Cinema as Social Opportunity 40 2.1 " A Thrilling Drama" 43 2.1.1 The Haptics of Cinema; or, the Annihilation of Space by Time 50 2.1.2 The Bodily Pleasures of Time-Space Compression 54 2.2 Progressive Spectator ship 56 2.2.1 Making History in Circumstances not of One's Choosing 59 2.3 The Sensory Production of Habit 71 2.3.1 The Image: The Matter of Memory 73 2.3.2 The Contemplation and Direction of Images 77 2.4 Perception & the Self-Governing Subject 82 Chapter 3 New York & the National Board: Cinema as Political Opportunity 85 3.1 Fire & Brimstone in New York City 88 3.1.1 Blue Sundays and the Regulation of Morality 88 3.1.2 Christmas Eve, 1908 102 3.2 Formation of the "Board of Censors" : 110 3.2.1 A Constructive Agenda 112 3.2.2 The Board Becomes National 115 3.3 The National Board & the City of New York 117 3.3.1 The Fosdick Report 125 3.3.2 The Woman's Municipal League 134 3.3.3 The Folks Ordinance 137 Chapter 4 A n Educational Force 153 4.1 The Labor of Play 155 4.1.1 The Play of Mimesis 158 4.2 Film as an Educational Force 162 4.2.1 Building a Market 163 4.2.2 Producing the Films 165 4.3 Cinema & Moral Education 175 4.3.1 Drama, the Highest Art 178 Chapter 5 "Social" Anxieties: Sex, Race & Mobility 182 5.1 The White Slavery Films 189 5.1.1 Traffic in Souls 191 5.2 The Birth of a Nation 213 5.2.1 The National Board and The Birth of a Nation 221 5.3 The Racialized Geography of Self-Possession 224 Chapter 6 Minneapolis & Atlanta 227 6.1 Minneapolis 232 6.1.1 The First City Ordinances 235 6.2 Atlanta 246 6.3 Executive Empowerment 255 6.4 "A Damnable Photo-Play" 265 6.4.1 "Jim Crow Negroes" 270 6.4.2 The Minneapolis Board of Censors 274 Chapter 7 "It Is Impossible to Please Everyone" 282 7.1 The Board Loses Confidence 285 7.1.1 Debating Standards 291 7.1.2 Publicizing Standards 297 7.2 Gendering a Constructive Agenda 301 iv 7.2.1 Circulating Speakers 308 7.3 NAMPI, the MPPDA & the End 318 7.4 Conclusion: Whiteness & Cultural Geographies of Governance 323 7.4.1 Coda: Axiomatic .., , 327 Filmography 334 Bibliography 335 v List of Figures 1. Peter Bacigalupi's Kinetoscope, Phonograph, and Gramophone Arcade; San Francisco, 1895. National Park Service, Edison Historical Site 2 2. Advertisement for Edison's Vitascope. Library of Congress 3 3. "The interior of the first nickelodeon in the United States." Moving Picture World 1, no. 39 (30 November 1907): 629 4 4. John Collier in the Great Smoky Mountains, 1907. John Collier Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library 41 5. Evelyn Nesbit in "Eternal Question," Charles Dana Gibson, Eighty Drawings including the Weaker Sex (New York: Charles Scribners and Sons, 1903 43 6. Crystal Hall, 14th Street, New York City, 1909, by H . Lyman Broening. From Victor Milner, "Fade Out and Slowly Fade In," American Cinematographer, September 1923, 4 51 7. Paradise Roof Garden theater, on top of Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre, New York City, 1901-1902. Museum of the City of New York, Silver gelatin, M C N Y 93 8. Arabian Acrobats, Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre, 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, New York City, 1901-1902, silver gelatin print. M C N Y 94 9. Excerpt from the Hammerstein Decision (reprinted in the New York Times, 27 October 1907) 95 10. Tammany Hall on West 14th Street, ca. 1914. LOC 99 11. Manhattan Nickelodeons, 1907-1909. Reprinted from Ben Singer, "Manhattan Nickelodeons: New Data on Audiences and Exhibitors," Cinema Journal 34, no. 3 (1995): 8, courtesy of the University of Texas Press 100 12. "Artificial flower making at 8 cents a gross. Youngest child working is 5 years old." New York City, Lewis Wickes Hine, January 1908. LOC 106 13. "Italian woman carrying an enormous empty dry-goods-box for some distance along Bleeker Street, N.Y. Used for kindlings." Lewis Wickes Hine, February 1912. LOC 106 14. "'How the other half lives' in a crowded Hebrew district, Lower East Side, N.Y. City." Underwood & Underwood, stereograph, 1907. LOC 107 15. The People's Institute, New York, 1905. M C N Y I l l 16. Interior view of the People's Institute, 1905. M C N Y I l l 17. "Cleaning the Hippodrome," 6 t h Avenue and West 44 th Street, New York, 1905. M C N Y 149 18. "Word picture of a cat." From Lane, "Euclid vs. Edison," 682 167 19. The reflex-arc concept, from William James, Principles of Psychology, vol. 1, 25 170 20. The "country girl" in Traffic in Souls 197 21. The "Swedish sisters" in Traffic in Souls 197 22. Lorna yawning as Mary helps their father in Traffic in Souls 198 23. Trubus' "cadet" introduces himself to Lorna, while Mary looks on with mounting suspicion. Traffic in Souls 198 24. The cadet plying Lorna with alcohol at the dance hall, drugging her drink, and bringing her by car to the brothel. Traffic in Souls 199 25. Trubus' wife catches the pair kissing in the purity league office. Traffic in Souls ... 199 26. Mary discovers Trubus' secret and the fate of her sister. Traffic in Souls 200 27. Mary records Trubus' conversations and hands over the evidence to the police. Traffic in Souls .- 201 28. Lorna is rescued by the police just in the nick of time, and she is reunited with her older sister downstairs. Traffic in Souls 201 29. Trubus loses his wife and daughter... Traffic in Souls 202 30. ...while Mary's family is intact. Traffic in Souls 202 31. The characters in Traffic in Souls are constantly moving around the city in mechanized transportation 207 32. The black window washer and the white lovers. Traffic in Souls 209 33. The African American maids working in Trubus' brothel (top and center) are absent in the final tracking shot of the jailed white slavery ring. Traffic in Souls 211 34. The "renegade negro" Gus chases young Flora Cameron in The Birth of a Nation 215 35. Lydia Brown upon hearing Stoneman's "edict" that blacks will be raised to full equality. Birth of a Nation 215 36. The new South Carolina legislature under the heel of the North. Birth of a Nation 216 37. Close-up of Lillian Gish as Elsie Stoneman in Birth of a Nation 217 38. The Klan and the "negro disturber and barn burner." Birth of a Nation 218 39. "War claims its bitter, useless, sacrifice." Birth of a Nation 220 40. Minneapolis Skyline, ca. 1912. LOC 233 41. Northwestern Knitting Company, 269-277 Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis, ca. 1915. Photographer: Charles P. Gibson. MHS 234 42. The Shubert Theatre, Seventh between Hennepin and First Avenue North, Minneapolis, ca. 1912: MHS 238 43: Lyric Theater, 718 Hennepin, Minneapolis, ca. 1920. MHS 241 44. Dreamland Dancing Pavilion, 315 Fifth Street South, Minneapolis, postcard ca. 1911. MHS 243 45. Dreamland Dancing Pavilion, 315 Fifth Street South, Minneapolis, postcard ca. 1915. MHS 243 46. Interior views, Munsingwear Knitting Mills (formerly the Northwest Knitting Company), Minneapolis, 1920. MHS 244 47. Stereograph of Cotton States Exhibition, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, 1895. G D A H 247 48. Photograph of street view, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, 1907. G D A H 248 49. Pantages Theatre, 708 Hennepin, Minneapolis, 1920. Photographer: Charles J. Hibbard. MHS 269 50. "Group at the Negro Building, Atlanta Exhibition." Fulton County, Georgia, 1895. G D A H 271 51. Odd Fellows Building, 250 Auburn Avenue, South Elevation, 1979, LOC 272 52. "Negro Jim Crow Preachers," Atlanta Independent, 24 November 1917,1 273 53. Picketing the New National Theater, Minneapolis, 15 November 1917. MHS 277 54. Sessue Hayakawa and Fannie Ward, The Cheat (Lasky, 1915) 293 55. Theda Bara, Cleopatra (Fox, 1917) 295 List of Abbreviations A H C A Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center Archives AI Atlanta Independent EC Executive Committee EW The Early Works of John Dewey G D A H Georgia Department of Archives and History, Digital Library of Georgia GC General Committee GSLL Georgia State Law Library LOC Library of Congress LW The Later Works of John Dewey M C N Y Museum of the City of New York MHS Minnesota Historial Society MIL Office of the City Clerk, Minneapolis Municipal Information Library MJ Minneapolis Journal MPW Moving Picture World NBRMP National Board of Review of Motion Pictures NYT New York Times TCS Twin City Star ix Acknowledgments It is a pleasure to give my thanks to all who have made this project possible. I would like to thank my supervisor Geraldine Pratt for her support of this research. Her talent for asking the right question at the right time has been invaluable to me in my process of trying to clarify just what on earth this project is about (the flaws on that front are, of course, all mine). Financially, her support through a UBC Hampton Fund Research Grant made the archival research possible. Derek Gregory has given much encouragement, again with an exquisite sense of timing, as a teacher and as a research committee member throughout my time here at UBC. As with Gerry, his intellectual curiosity is an inspiration, and with their offices tucked in the same corner of the building, the two combined have a formidable library which they freely share. Nick Blomley's sometimes skeptical questions have prompted me to take the opportunity to come up for air, or come down to earth, depending on one's perspective. His location across town at Simon Fraser University and his understandable reluctance to trek out to UBC have made for unexpectedly pleasurable committee meetings at congenial non-institutional settings. Jane Gaines gamely agreed to participate on a geographer's PhD committee, and her comments—and encouragement—from the perspective of a film scholar have been invaluable. Committee members are not the only people who contribute to intellectual undertakings such as this, and I would like to thank Natalie Oswin for her aphoristic yet enthusiastic discussions, and Alex Vasudevan for wading through Benjamin and Bergson with me. I would also like to thank all the staff at UBC Geography who have been nothing but helpful to me while I have been here in navigating the institutional bureaucracy—and computer systems—with which I have so little patience. Also, I am grateful for the institutional support provided through a University Graduate Fellowship and a L i Tze Fong Memorial Scholarship for doctoral students. Archival research has a materiality and protocol to it that I had to discover along the way, and a helpful archivist can make all the difference. I would like to thank the staff at the Atlanta History Center, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Georgia Local and Family History Department, the Georgia State Law Library, the City of Minneapolis Municipal Information Library, the Minneapolis Public Library Special Collections, the Minnesota Historical Society Library, the Minnesota State Law Library, the University of Minnesota Libraries Social Welfare History Archives, the New York Public Library Manuscripts and Archives Division, and the volunteers at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. The materiality of research also involves the care of the self, and for their hospitality during my travels, I would like to thank Joe Rollins and Parviez Hosseini in New York City, and Eliot Grev and Becky Schiller in Minneapolis. Becky, and Brian Green, Eileen Hormel, Andy Storey, and Jo van Every have visited me in Vancouver and helped me stay connected to the rest of the world. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for doing everything they could to raise me with the intellectual curiosity that made this project happen in the first place. x — C H A P T E R 1— Introduction: Cinema as Social Problem CI N E M A has been one of the defining technologies of the past century, changing how we entertain and educate ourselves and even altering the way we perceive the world. It has been thoroughly enmeshed in the social and cultural conflicts of twentieth-century modernity in the United States and elsewhere through controversies over its effects on the behavior of its spectators. This includes the geographies of such conflicts, and the combination of effects surrounding cinema can be complex. Consider the East Oakland high school students who prompted such outrage in 1994 when they laughed at a woman being shot in the head in Schindler's List. The students were African American and Hispanic and came from one of the poorest areas of the state with some of the lowest test scores in the Bay Area. "'We see death and violence in our community all the time,' explained Mirabel Corral, 16, one of the students ejected from the movie. 'People cannot understand how numb we are toward violence.'"1 For the students, New York Times columnist Frank Rich added, "Next to the real thing, the black-and-white N bloodshed of "Schindler's List" looked laughably fake." The incident underlined the 1 "'Schindler's' Dissed," New York Times, 6 February 1994,17; hereafter cited as NYT. It is important to add that many of the students involved took responsibility and turned the incident into an opportunity for mutual education and understanding with the Jewish community. 1 M e n standing behind Kinetoscope peepshows at Peter Bacigalupi's Kinetoscope, Phonograph, and Gramophone Arcade; San Francisco, 1895. National Park Service, Edison Historical Site. Image 23.300/2. Image removed due to copyright restrictions. Figure 1. Peter Bacigalupi's Kinetoscope, Phonograph, and Gramophone Arcade; San Francisco, 1895. National Park Service, Edison Historical Site. uncertain boundaries between the virtual world projected on the screen, the social space within the theater, and the actual world outside the cinema, past and present—a world sharply divided by race and class—and it showed cinema's power to condense all these geographies through its spectators' attitudes and conduct. Although this story meshes neatly in its specifics with the urban underclass discourse of the past forty years, it resonates more generally with anxieties that have accompanied cinema since its inception. Cinema emerged in the 1890s to become a staple of public amusements in U.S. cities and was quickly enrolled in the social and cultural conflicts of the Progressive era: It arose at a time of enormous social change, and it appealed to the masses of workers who were flowing into the industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest during a period of immigration and urbanization that was unprecedented in the country's history. Public amusements were newly commodified forms of leisure that met the needs of the working classes and formed new, public and heterosocial urban spaces such as vaudeville theaters, arcades and dance halls. Many social reformers saw them as breeding grounds for crime and prostitution that were particularly dangerous to women 2 Print advertisement for Edison's Vitascope showing audience watching film projected on screen. No image number. Image removed due to copyright restrictions. Figure 2. Advertisement for Edison's Vitascope. Library of Congress (LOC). and children. For its first decade cinema came in two forms, first as peepshows for individual spectators at venues such as arcades and saloons (fig. 1), and second, the more familiar projected films for group audiences which were commonly shown between vaudeville acts (fig. 2). But the changing technical apparatus was only one aspect of its emergence; cinema only became a problem distinct from other public amusements for urban reformers with its spatial segregation in dedicated moving picture theaters. The theater that gave its name to this new urban space opened in Photograph of nickelodeon interior. Image removed due to copyright restrictions. Figure 3. "The interior of the first nickelodeon in the United States." Moving Picture World 1, no. 39 (30 November 1907): 629. Pittsburgh in 1905, and the "Nickelodeon" marked the beginning of a boom that quickly spread to the major cities of the Northeast and Midwest (fig. 3).2 Of urban reformers' reactions to this new amusement, historian Kathleen McCarthy writes, Although critics randomly categorized the storefront theaters with other popular commercialized amusements—poolrooms, dance halls, and barrooms—they were most frequently compared to the saloon. Much of the terminology of the censorship arguments was lifted directly from the temperance literature. Vachel Lindsay, for example, described the nervous condition ascribed to chronic movie-going as "photoplay delirium tremens." Both institutions were labeled "schools for crime." Theater employees, like bartenders, were regarded as "evil 2 Charles Musser, The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, Vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990), 418. 4 minded men" waiting to corrupt the innocent....Moreover, nickelodeons and saloons were both believed to hygienically "undermine the health of (their) patrons," by harboring germs. Reformers complained that dust, high temperatures and large crowds facilitated the spread of disease....Traveling vermin and expectorating patrons similarly menaced the unwary....The Independent reflected such fears when it complained in 1910 that "the moving picture show is liable to be more of a menace to health than any of the popular amusements of recent years. The two institutions were therefore symbolically linked through common metaphors, while sharing the opprobrium for producing similar moral and psychological ills. 3 McCarthy's gloss is characteristic of scholarship on early censorship. While it is certainly accurate as far as it goes, there was in fact a broader range of opinion among reformers. We talk a good deal about the censorship of picture shows, and pass city ordinances to keep the young from being corrupted by them; and this is all very well, because a great amusement of the people ought to be kept clean and sweet; but at the same time this discussion has left a sort of feeling in the minds of people who do not need to go to the picture show that it is a doubtful sort of a place, where young girls and men scrape undesirable acquaintances, and where the prowler lies in wait for the unwary, and where suggestive films of crime and passion are invariably displayed. But I think that this is an unjust idea, and that any one who will take the trouble to amuse himself with the picture show audiences for an afternoon or two will see why it is that the making of films has become a great industry, why it is that the picture show has driven out the vaudeville and the melodrama.4 Vorse's perspective was shared by many Progressive-era reformers in that she saw cinema as a unique industry, one that presented positive opportunities for uplift in comparison to other cheap amusements. Vorse and her colleagues wished to turn cinema from partner in crime to social worker, and the audience member from vulnerable child to potential citizen. This project of using the social agency of cinema to produce the political agency of the'citizen was articulated not only in the pages of social work journals such as the Outlook and the Survey, but in settlement houses, lecture halls, 3 Kathleen D. McCarthy, "Nickel Vice and Virtue: Movie Censorship in Chicago, 1907-1915," Journal of Popular Film 5, no. 1 (1976): 40-41. 4 Mary Heaton Vorse, "Some Picture Show Audiences," Outlook 98 (24 June 1911): 442. 5 churches, city halls and courtrooms — and nickelodeons themselves—in cities across the country. Progressive national discourse on cinema was no monolithic entity, and any consideration of it that ignores its local productivity is necessarily incomplete. Instead it had a variable geography whereby each locality produced this reformist project out its own local cultural, social, political and economic circumstances and gave the national debate over cinema its own inflection.5 1.1 The "Cheap Theatre" Problem But for cinema to be rehabilitated, it first had to become a problem. What enabled this problematization was that nickelodeons physically differentiated picture shows from other cheap amusements. Movies had been shown in peepshows and vaudeville theaters for nearly a decade, but spectators could only watch the former individually, while they watched the latter with a variety of other entertainments. When 5 A useful work that charts changing notions of citizenship from the early republic through the Progressive era is Rogers M. Smith, Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997). Other works that focus on the intersection of social differences, culture, reform and regulation during the Progressive era include Paul Boyer, Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978); Mina Carson, Settlement Folk: Social Thought and the American Settlement Movement, 1885-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990); John Whiteclay Chambers II, The Tyranny of Change: America in the Progressive Era, 1890-1920, 2nd ed. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000); Nancy Cohen, The Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865-1914 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Sarah Deutsch, Women and the City: Gender, Space, and Power in Boston, 1870-1940 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Maureen A. Flanagan, Seeing with their Hearts: Chicago Women and the Visions of the Good City, 1871-1933 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002); Noralee Frankel and Nancy S.Dye, eds., Gender, Class, Race, and Reform in the Progressive Era (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991); Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 14-80; Michael Goldfield, The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainsprings of American Politics (New York: The New Press, 1997), 137-175; John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860-1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1978), 106-263; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 179-220; Morton Keller, Regulating a New Society: Public Policy and Social Change in America, 1900-1933 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994); Kevin Mattson, Creating a Democratic Public: The Struggle for Urban Participatory Democracy during the Progressive Era (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998); Alison M. Parker, Purifying America: Women, Cultural Reform, and Pro-Censorship Activism, 1873-1933 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997). 6 nickelodeons emerged as dedicated movie theaters with group audiences, they presented their own special physical and moral risks.6 This made them ripe to become targets of urban reform, in no small part because they were inexpensive to set up and run and so appealed to immigrant entrepreneurs with little capital. A n often-quoted piece in the trade journal Moving Picture World from 1907 described all that was needed to open a store-front theater: One storeroom, seating from 200 to 500 persons. One phonograph with extra large horn. One young woman cashier. One electric sign. One cinematograph, with operator. One canvas on which to throw the pictures. One piano. One barker. One manager. As many chairs as the store will hold. A few brains and a little tact. Mix pepper and salt to taste. After that all you have to do is to open the doors, start the phonograph and carry the money to the bank. The public does the rest.7 Such allegedly easy profits only made the exhibitors and producers involved in the nascent industry even more suspect. In a number of cities across the country, social reformers were often at the forefront of criticism; although exhibitors may have been targets, as I will show in this study, for these reformers the paramount concern was how best to regulate the effects of moving pictures on its audiences. l.l.l C H I C A G O ' S U N R U L Y A U D I E N C E S Moving pictures and their audiences appear to have first been targeted for criticism in Chicago, a city which had recently and explosively grown to become the second largest in the United States, and its industrial capital. As in other industrial cities, this growth was fueled in no small part by Catholic and Jewish immigration from 6 Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907-1915, Vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990), 37-52. 7 "The Nickelodeon," Moving Picture World 1, no. 9 (4 May 1907): 140; (hereafter cited as MPW). 7 Eastern and Southern Europe as well as the migration of African Americans from the South. This mix of peoples combined with often tense labor relations meant that violence and disorder were always just around the corner, at least in the eyes of the Anglo-Saxon Protestants who had until recently always held direct political power. Lauren Rabinovitz points out that the coincidence of the nickelodeon boom with the peak of immigration in 1907 led to a moral panic about picture shows on the part of urban reformers as they worried about the immigrants' effects on social conflict.8 "Rather than attempt social reform, they worked for social control, focusing on the spread of public commercial cultures in immigrant neighborhoods. They were interested in remaking the Europeanized, lower-class slum neighborhoods as ideal communities where 'American' and moral values (which they associated with traditional small towns) would prevail."9 Rabinovitz argues that a primary basis of the reformers' worries was not so much the volatile ethnic mix of the city, but the new heterosocial space that public amusements such as nickelodeons provided for unescorted women from the vulnerable classes. In fact, nickelodeons were seen by many immigrant parents as one of the few safe places for their daughters to go alone.10 Whether reformers were aware of this or not, the very presence of these lone women in public theaters was no doubt prima facie evidence to reformers of immigrant immorality. But where did this propensity for immorality come from? According to reformer Louise de Koven Bowen, "Girls in their craving for excitement are only too anxious to appear in public."1 1 A newspaper reporter echoed this assessment with a characterization of "boys and girls...spending 8 Lauren Rabinovitz, For the Love of Pleasure: Women, Movies and Culture in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998), 110. For a discussion focusing specifically on Protestant views of immigrants, Progressivism and film regulation, see Garth S. Jowett, '"A Capacity for Evil': The 1915 Supreme Court Mutual Decision" in Controlling Hollywood: Censorship and Regulation in the Studio Era, ed. Matthew Bernstein (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 16-40. 9 Ibid., 111. 1 0 Kathy Lee Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986), 139-162. 8 their petty savings and earnings with an insatiable appetite for the crude sensations that are experienced within.''12 Children, then, were as vulnerable to moving pictures as were women, a matter made worse by the lack of constructive recreational opportunities.13 While Rabinovitz emphasizes that Chicago nickelodeons "represented for the reformers a new licentiousness and harbors for young, out-of-control immigrant and working class women,"14 Lee Grieveson claims that reformers' investigations of movie audiences "focused almost exclusively on children of an urban immigrant population."15 However, Grieveson does point out the stark gendering of juvenile susceptibilities: girls were tempted by sex and boys were lured to crime.16 Grieveson traces this treatment in a series of articles the Chicago Tribune published in 1907 for its white middle-class readers in which it "exposed" nickelodeons as a pernicious influence on boys. According to the paper, they "minister to the lowest passions of childhood. They make schools of crime where murders, robberies and holdups are illustrated. The outlaw life they portray in their cheap plays lends to the encouragement of wickedness. They manufacture criminals to the city streets."17 The Tribune also chronicled the downfall of a runaway girl who was seduced to prostitution by a manager of a nickelodeon on Halstead Street. The young girl was 15 years old and from all the evidence in the case was of pure and unsophisticated mind until she began looking at the scenes of love and 1 1 Rabinovitz, For the Love of Pleasure, 121. 1 2 Quoted in ibid., 115. 1 3 J. A. Lindstrom, '"Almost Worse than the Restrictive Measures': Chicago Reformers and the Nickelodeons," Cinema Journal 39, no. 1 (1999), 90-112. 1 4 Ibid., 106. 1 5 Lee Grieveson, "Why the Audience Mattered in Chicago in 1907," in American Movie Audiences: From the Turn of the Century to the Early Sound Era, ed. Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby (London: British Film Institute, 1999), 80; for a discussion of the focus on children in New York at this time, see Roberta E. Pearson and William Uricchio, '"the Formative and Impressionable Stage': Discursive Constructions of the Nickelodeon's Child Audience" in the same volume, 64-78. 1 6 Ibid., 83. 1 7 Quoted in ibid. 9 passion supplied by Sorenson's tawdry place. Day by day she frequented the place.. .The man saw her pretty cheeks and fresh young face and laid his nets. Finally there came a day when she did not go home and when the police found her she was living in a room in a West Madison street hotel with Sorenson.18 Such tales of ruin were common fare for newspapers, and certain reformers used them to bolster their case for official censorship and a police presence in theaters. Reverend Anna Shaw argued, There should be a police woman at the entrance of every moving picture show and another inside. These places are the recruiting stations of vice. In Chicago recently twenty-three young girls in one month were lured from a moving picture show and shipped to Texas for immoral purposes on the representation that they were being engaged for a theatrical spectacle. This could never have happened had two police women been stationed there.19 These attacks put the industry on the defensive. Alfred Saunders, editor of the Moving Picture World, cautioned his subscribers, "These shows, be it remembered, are largely, almost exclusively, patronized by school girls and young women who always have a loose nickel in their purse. These young girls and women go to these places to see a moving picture, but they often see a good deal more than a picture and hear a good deal more than what's good for them."20 If girls were susceptible to prostitution, boys were potential pickpockets. Saunders ran a satirical article that asked why more attention wasn't paid to racetracks and other venues where people parted with much more money. "It seems that those moving picture shows are a great menace to the majesty of the law. Pickpockets go in there and get nickels and dimes and even dollars out of the people's pockets."21 Some theater managers saw out-of-control boys as their worst threat. "[C]rowds of noisy, unwashed boys are a nuisance to every manager and drive away quiet, respectable people who would otherwise be patrons. Especially in the big city the boy is too often a 1 8 Quoted in ibid. 1 9 '"Recruiting Stations of Vice:' A Libel on Moving Picture Theaters," MPW 6, no. 10 (12 March 1910): 370-371. 2 0 "Keep Up the Standard of the Show," MPW 2, no. 11 (14 March 1908): 203. 2 1 Untitled, MPW 1, no. 11 (18 May 1907): 170. 10 malicious mischief-maker, and much minor damage has been committed by him around and in moving picture theatres."22 1.1.2 T H E NEW MIDDLE CLASS AND THE PRODUCTION OF WHITENESS Such portrayals of immigrant women, children as well as nickelodeon owners were of course explicitly classed. And while at first nickelodeons required little investment, this would not last for long. Film historians have debated the "embourgeoisement thesis," the long-standing assumption that cinema was originally a working-class phenomenon which took several years to become a middle-class amusement in terms of theater location, audience composition, film content, interior decor and admission price.23 Historians such as Russell Merritt, Robert C. Allen and Ben Singer have engaged in empirical studies of nickelodeon location and numbers correlated with demographic data in order to arrive at conclusions about the class configuration of early audiences. Even as they sharply differed, they underscored the complexity and geographical variability of cinema audiences.24 This body of work was in part a tangential reaction to psychoanalytic apparatus theory and Althusserian 2 2 Untitled, MPW9, no. 8 (2 September 1911): 605. These concerns never really abated; the first major sociological study of children and cinema was undertaken in the late 1920s and early 1930s through the Payne fund and many of the issues raised would sound familiar to Progressive era reformers. See Garth S. Jowett, Ian C. Jarvie and Kathryn H. Fuller, eds., Children and the Movies: Media Influence and the Payne Fund Controversy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 2 3 Classic examples include Garth Jowett, Film: The Democratic Art (Boston: Little, Brown, 1975), 518; Robert Sklar, Movie-made America: A Social History of American Movies (New York: Random House, 1975), 340. For a more recent work that focuses on the politics of early labor films and their decline, see Steven J. Ross, Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 367. 2 4 Robert C. Allen, "Motion Picture Exhibition in Manhattan, 1906-1912: Beyond the Nickelodeon," Cinema Journal 18, no. 2 (1970), 2-15; Russell Merritt, "Nickelodeon Theatres, 1905-1914: Building an Audience for the Movies" in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), 59-79; Ben Singer, "Manhattan Nickelodeons: New Data on Audiences and Exhibitors " Cinema Journal 34, no. 3 (1995), 5-35. For debates following the publication of Singer's paper, see Robert C. Allen, "Manhattan Myopia; Or, Oh! Iowa!" Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (1996), 75-103; Ben Singer, "New York, just Like I Pictured it," Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (1996), 104-128; and the Spring 1996 and Summer 1997 issues of Cinema Journal. 1 1 ideology analysis in which cinema's textual content and positioning of subjects interpellated its spectators as middle-class consumers.25 More recent scholarship has contested apparatus theory's assumption of spectators' consumerist political passivity, particularly in feminist accounts of early spectatorship, and as with the historians mentioned above, underscored the variability of cinematic practices, the diversity of audiences and the agency enabled by cinema.26 Yet another area of reappraisal has been the films themselves; rather than regarding early cinema simply as a "primitive" precursor to the causal-narrative films that would be called "Classical Hollywood Cinema" by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristen Thompson, or simply "bourgeois" by advocates of interpellation, a number of scholars have been interested in early films such as actuality footage or trick films for their own kinesthetic qualities and logics.27 Accounts of the relationships between and the transitions within film content, spectatorship and exhibition have been considerably complicated. In light of such complexity Miriam Hansen has characterized cinema as an highly productive "public sphere," one that has not simply presupposed masculinist middle-class norms as the term might suggest, but has instead produced "counter-publics" that have been crucial 2 5 See Philip Rosen, Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology : A Film Theory Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 549. 2 6 A classic is Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 377. 2 7 Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson differ from interpellation/apparatus theorists by taking a more cognitive approach, yet their formal analysis of the films themselves (from 1917 to 1960) is similar in that Classical Hollywood Cinema is seen to provide a seamless causal narrative, diegetic space and temporality for the spectator that fulfills his/her expectations and discourages critical thought. David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson, The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985). This paradigm has been controversial within film studies; for an overview, see Jane Gaines, ed., Classical Hollywood Narrative: The Paradigm Wars (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992); Miriam Bratu Hansen takes a Benjaminian approach in "The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism," in Reinventing Film Studies, ed. Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams (London: Arnold, 2000), 332-350. One of the most widely cited essays reevaluating early film is Tom Gunning's "The Cinema of Attractions: Early Cinema, Its Spectator, and the 12 in reconfiguring gender as well as class relationships.28 Her work and others' have resonated with that of other scholars investigating public spaces in the city at large and interrogating the historical equation of feminized and middle-class public spaces with consumerist passivity.29 This gendering of public spaces of consumption was an acute anxiety during the Progressive era; the so-called new middle class was emerging at this time as the rise of corporate capitalism produced a demand for professionals who could manage large companies they did not own. They were not "productive" in the working-class sense, nor did they own the means of production, and this new class configuration was perceived by many to be an assault on "traditional" masculinity. For all the insights into the gender, class and ethnic dynamics involved in problematizing cinema early audiences, much of the scholarship duplicates a gap in the reformers' accounts of audience composition. Mary Carbine forcefully points this out in her work on African-American theatergoing in Chicago. "[T]he emphasis on European immigrants presumes that the most significant shift in turn-of-the-century urban populations resulted from the second wave of European immigration. In fact, the nickelodeon era and the rise of the picture palace coincided with major population shifts among black Americans, as southern blacks moved to northern cities in a large-scale exodus known as the 'Great Migration.'" 3 0 In a recent book, Jacqueline Najuma Stewart Avant-Garde," in Early Film, ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Adam Barker (London: British Film Institute, 1989); this will be treated in more detail in chapter 2. 2 8 Hansen, Babel and Babylon. 2 9 For an example from historical geography, see Mona Domosh, "The 'Women of New York': A Fashionable Moral Geography," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19 (2001), 573-592. 3 0 She continues: "In Chicago, the number of black residents increased nearly seven-fold between 1890 and 1910 and rose by 148 percent between 1910 and 1920, compared to a 21 percent rise in the non-black population." Mary Carbine, '".The Finest Outside the Loop': Motion Picture Exhibition in Chicago's Black Metropolis, 1905-1928," Camera Obscura 23 (1990), 9-10. For accounts of the Great Migration, see E. Marvin Goodwin, Black Migration in America from 1915 to 1960: An Uneasy Exodus (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1990); James R. Grossman, Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989); Daniel M. Johnson and Rex R. Campbell, Black Migration in America: A Social Demographic History (Durham: Duke University Press, 1981), 71-89; Carole Marks, Farewell —We're Good and Gone: The Great Black Migration (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989); Joe William Trotter Jr., ed., The Great Migration in Historical Perspective: New Dimensions of Race, Class, and Gender 13 is rather more succinct; she notes, "[RJacial difference has functioned as something like the proverbial 'nigger in the woodpile' of early film history and theories of film-viewer relations, including those developed by revisionist film scholarship."31 This is due in no small part to the well-known difficulty of finding historical evidence concerning the black community in the archive. Yet this archival absence is a geographically determined absence that has structured the ways audiences have been construed from the beginning, one that needs to be accounted for in order to gain a clearer picture of how cinema became a problem in the U.S. on a national scale.32 Interestingly, the very first article published in a national reform-oriented journal on the moving picture problem serves as an index of this absence, and it too concerned Chicago. Sherman Kingsley, superintendent of the Chicago Relief and Aid Society, summarized the aforementioned study by the Chicago City Club in the prominent social work journal, Charities and Commons. He discusses penny arcades and nickelodeons, then writes, "In the theaters of the second class [ten-cent vaudeville] that attract children, admission can be gained to the 'nigger heaven' for ten or fifteen cents. Here young boys are found in large numbers."33 Referring to the segregation of black patrons in the balcony commonly practiced in many Chicago theaters, Kingsley (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991). For studies of black life in northern communities at the time, see Kathryn Grover, Make a Way Somehow: African-American Life in a Northern Community, 1790-1965 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1994), 106-157; Lillian Serece Williams, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, New York 1900-1949 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). 3 1 She describes the metaphor as such: "Dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, (white) Americans have used the expression 'a nigger in the woodpile' to indicate that something is amiss, that there is a 'catch' or an unseen but important factor 'affecting a situation in an adverse way.'" Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 4-5. 3 2 My sense of the term "scale" is similar to that of Sallie Marston, who writes that it is "a contingent outcome of the tensions between structural forces and the practices of human agents," although I would emphasis the mutually constitutive aspect of structural forces and human practices. Sallie A. Marston, "The Social Construction of Scale," Progress in Human Geography 24, no. 2 (2000), 220. 3 3 Sherman C Kingsley, "The Penny Arcade and the Cheap Theatre," Charities and the Commons [Survey] 24 (8 June 1907): 295. 14 racialized what was supposedly a (somewhat) better class of theater and the boys who attended—African Americans themselves, of any age, were beneath analysis. He quoted an investigator asking the boys about what theaters they preferred: "What about the five cent theaters?" to which a boy responded, "Yes, we go to them but we like the real theaters best."34 Kingsley did not elaborate on the boys' preference for "real theaters." However his characterization of nickelodeons may offer a clue. "One strong impression left by visits to these places, especially in the residential portions of the city, is that they answer, imperfectly to be sure, a real need of the community. This impression was borne out by the character of the audience. Father and mother, the baby, the older children, the grand parents—all were there...in the main the performances were not objectionable."35 Nickelodeons were a family affair, then, and perhaps the "colored" sections of vaudeville houses offered an escape for immigrant children from parental supervision along with the twin allures of experiencing the adult "class" of real theaters and of transgressing African-American space. This mobility and ability to experience the spaces of racial others was one of the "wages of whiteness" which W.E.B. Du Bois famously argued compensated working-class whites for their relative lack of political and economic power.36 Yet this form of consumption was continuous with the middle-class consumerism that was emerging and expanding at this time, and so the compensatory model of whiteness only goes so far in explaining how it operates.37 3 4 Ibid., 296. 3 5 Ibid., 295. 3 6 W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America; an Essay Toward a History of the Part which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1962), 746. David Roediger has explored the racialization of working-class identity in The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London: Verso, 1991). 3 7 George Lipsitz updates Du Bois' formulation by focusing on the "possessive investment in whiteness," which was "generated by slavery and segregation but augmented by social democratic reform" in the 1950s and '60s. He makes the commonplace observation that "Americans produce largely cultural explanations for structural social problems," referring to the pathologization of African American culture, in order to advocate the introduction of social-structural accounts into American Studies. George Lipsitz, "The Possessive Investment in 15 If the presence of a black community received at least cursory acknowledgment in Chicago, it did not appear to figure at all in defining cinema as a problem in New York City. In his 1901 sociological study of the black community in New York City, Du Bois described it as "a world of itself, closed in from the outer world and almost unknown to it," and this observation is borne out in the writings of New York reformers.38 A year after Kingsley wrote his article, John Collier, secretary at the People's Institute, a prominent settlement house in Lower Manhattan, publicized the results in Charities and Commons of a joint study with the Woman's Municipal League of cheap amusements. Collier describes the audiences of different classes of theater in similar terms as Kingsley. While "vaudeville has at best has only a limited interest for the great, basic, public of the working and immigrant classes in New York," "[t]he nickelodeon is a family theater, and is almost the creation of the child, and it has discovered a new and healthy cheap-amusement public."3 9 Collier was quite optimistic about this audience, whose only problem was that it was such a large portion of the city's population "not being actively reached by churches, settlements or night schools."40 The "great, basic, public of the working and immigrant classes" simply needed to be educated, and Collier was willing to do this in their own space rather than try to get a resistant public into church or night school. To this end, Collier would co-found the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures a year later with the People's Institute head Charles Sprague Smith, and he Whiteness: Racialized Social Democracy and the 'White' Problem in American Studies," American Quarterly 47, no. 3 (1995), 379. 3 8 W. E. B. D u Bois, W.E.B. Du Bois on Sociology and the Black Community, eds. Dan S. Green and Edwin D. Driver (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 152. 3 9 John Collier, "Cheap Amusements," Charities and the Commons 20 (11 Apr i l 1908): 75. For an account of the Salvation Army's attempts to reach the lower classes on the streets of New York, see Diane Winston, '"The Cathedral of the Open Air': The Salvation Army's Sacralization of Secular Space, New York City, 1880-1910" in Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape, ed. Robert A . Orsi (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 367-392. 4 0 John Collier, "Cheap Amusement Shows In Manhattan. Preliminary Report of Investigation," 31 January 1908, New York Public Library Manuscripts Division, National Board of Review Records, box 170, folder 1, p. 1 (hereafter cited as NBRMP) . 16 became the Board's most visible advocate for voluntary, representative censorship as he wrote countless articles and traveled around the country to deliver speeches.41 At the 1910 Congress of the Playground Association of America, he compared the audiences of the regular theater and the motion picture theater. "The audience of the regular theatre is composed of the leisure class, the man out for a good time away from his family, the sophisticated element of the community. The audience of a motion picture show is the immigrant, the wage-earner, and the child, the formative and impressionable elements of our people."42 But as suggested above, the audience of the motion picture show that interested reformers was also white. Progressive reformers often professed antiracism, but by and large they ignored the black migrants coming from the South to live in their midst. Even Jane Addams, who experimented with the first "ideal" picture show demonstrations at Hull House in the "cosmopolitan neighborhood" around North Halstead in Chicago, had relatively little contact with the city's black community, despite her invitations to Du Bois to speak at Hull House and her activities with the N A A C P and Urban League.43 This abjection of African Americans, I will argue, was an important epistemological move on the part of reformers as they sought to understand and direct the agency of cinema to produce their vision of white American citizens out of "the formative and impressionable elements" of the urban masses. 4 1 Overviews of the formation of the Board include Kevin Brownlow, Behind the Mask of Innocence (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), 4-23; Edward de Grazia and Roger K. Newman, Banned Films: Movies, Censors and the First Amendment (New York: R.R. Bowker Company, 1982), 10-13; Richard Koszarski, An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928, Vol. 3 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990) 198-201. For a discussion of the People's Institute in terms of its sponsorship of its public forum, see Mattson, Creating a Democratic Public, 31-47. 4 2 John Collier, "Moving Pictures: Their Function and Proper Regulation," Playground 4, no. 7 (October 1910): 233. 4 3 Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House, ed. Victoria Bissell Brown (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999), 146,160. See also Mary Bryan, Lynn McCree and Allen F. Davis, eds., 100 Years at Hull-House (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969), 133-134. 1 7 1.1.3 RACIALIZED POWER/KNOWLEDGE/GEOGRAPHY Such a disavowal of African Americans on the part of many white reformers was geographical, and Kingsley's remarks on "nigger heaven" begin to give a sense of how Progressive reformers' racial epistemology mutually implicated race and space. The notion that space is racialized is not in itself an exceptional statement, and there is much scholarship, particularly postcolonialist and feminist, on racialized geographies.44 Still less is the frequent cultural invisibility of African Americans an astonishing new insight.45 My interest here is to show how this invisibility was geographically articulated through the regulation of cinema, a visual medium that in itself makes racist visions of blackness all too visible, and I will offer two preliminary examples here to give a sense of the displacements and disavowals that will recur in the study. A crucial technique of rendering invisible an oppressed individual or group is to blame the victim. And a way that members of the National Board such as John Collier maintained their calculated ignorance of their African Americans neighbors was to locate racism geographically with the racially targeted people. This was not limited to the black community; in an early and unusually explicit reference to race in the Board's records, John Collier drafted a memo regarding Japanese in motion pictures in which he begins to delimit racism. He wrote that that the moving picture audience 4 4 The geographical literature on racialized and gendered geographies has become vast. Some works by both geographers and non-geographers that has been influential on my thinking include Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay: An Essay on Spatial History (London: Faber and Faber, 1987); Derek Gregory, The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq (Maiden: Blackwell, 2004), Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (New York: Routledge, 1995); Geraldine Pratt, Working Feminism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004); Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992); and Mariana Valverde, "The Dialectic of the Familiar and the Unfamiliar: "The Jungle' in Early Slum Travel Writing," Sociology 30 (1996), 493-509. 4 5 As bell hooks puts it, "One mark of oppression was that black folks were compelled to assume the mantle of invisibility, to erase all traces of their subjectivity during slavery and the long years of racial apartheid, so that they could be better—less threatening—servants." bell hooks, "Representing Whiteness in the Black Imagination" in Cultural Studies, eds. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson and Paula Treichler (New York: Routledge, 1992), 340. 18 is composed in the main of wage workers and their families. This class is more likely than the well-to-do classes to entertain prejudice against the orient and to be influenced by the sensational press. Various organizations and bodies of public opinion have recognized that motion pictures could be made an invaluable adjunct to their propaganda.46 The working-class susceptibility to sensationalism is familiar. So too is cinema's social agency to educate the poor; but here motion pictures are to act in the unusual service of eradicating racism. Collier goes on to suggest that Japanese films be produced: (a) Pictures dealing with the social life and geography of Japan. These Pictures should be dramatic in nature and should be designed to make plain the motives that guide Japan in those actions that interest the outside world... (b) Pictures, descriptive and dramatic in nature, dealing with the Japanese in America. In effect, the two branches of the subject could be blended in each film. Collier positions Japanese people as a corporate racialized subject split between Japan and the U.S., a split occasioned by immigrant mobility. More importantly for my purposes, there is a sense of distance here due to the peripheral position of Japanese immigrants within the U.S. relative to Collier in New York. Whites on the West Coast were claiming that immigrants were taking jobs away and lowering wages, and it was they who put the "Japanese problem" on the national agenda by pressing for federal legislation similar to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Collier was attempting to enlighten the urban masses of the Northeast and Midwest who were themselves becoming white, control the spread of racism and keep the Japanese problem a West Coast problem.47 The control of racism, then, was effectively a Northern white prerogative that Progressives in general shared. This desire to manage racism is also apparent in the example of reformers' contrasting treatment of Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. The head of the Tuskegee Institute with his non-confrontational, boot-strap approach for black self-sufficiency 4 6 John Collier, "To Create Friendliness and Understanding toward the Japanese by Means of the Motion Pictures," 2 November 1910, NBRMP 170:1, pp. 1-3. 4 7 For a discussion of federal racial legislation at the time that is sensitive to this racialized geography, see Thomas Adams Upchurch, Legislating Racism: The Billion Dollar Congress and the Birth of Jim Crow (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004). 19 contained in the South was a favorite in the Survey (which continued Charities and Commons), to which John Collier and other members of the Board of Review frequently contributed. Upon Washington's death in 1915 the Survey ran numerous tributes and quoted a eulogy given by his successor at Tuskegee, Robert R. Moton, that emphasized Washington's conciliatory stance on race. "He interpreted with kindness and patience and wisdom, the North to the South, the South to the North, the Negro to both, and both to the Negro....He used every opportunity to allay factional strife and bickerings among Negroes. He was truly a peacemaker."48 This universalizing take on fighting racism was articulated most fully in an editorial in which the journal geographically located racism and the fight against it. "[A]s the nation could not live half bond and half free in the days of political slavery, so in the days to come, the spiritual bonds of prejudice are to be broken from the white South as those to which [Washington] called attention are to be stricken from the black South. Only when both are removed will either be wholly free."49 White accountability was brought up only to be recuperated — the whites who were accountable for racism were not only located in the South, but with the permission of their Northern counterparts they were accountable to themselves before their fellow black citizens. This contrasted starkly with the approach of his rival Du Bois whose insight about the psychological wage of whiteness actively challenged whites on their racism and acceptance of class exploitation. Du Bois worked with the interracial N A A C P in part by editing its house organ, Crisis, and so he could not be ignored.50 He was thus occasionally asked to contribute to the Survey, but within clear limits. Du Bois wrote a 4 8 Untitled, Survey 35, no. 22 (26 February 1916): 650. 4 9 Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, "The Unshackled Spirit," Survey 35, no. 9 (27 November 1915): 223. 5 0 For a discussion of the shift in Du Bois' work from sociological studies of African Americans in Atlanta and Philadelphia to a more militant stance at The Crisis in terms of the scientific racism common at the time, see David Turley, "Black Social Science and Black Politics in the Understanding of the South: Du Bois, the Atlanta University Studies and the Crisis, 1897-1920" in Race and Class in the American South since 1890, eds. Melvyn Stokes and Rick Halpem (Oxford: Berg, 1994), 139-157. 20 piece entitled "Work for Black Folk in 1914," which he implied the N A A C P endorsed. Point number six read as follows: [T]he Negro must demand his social rights: his right to be treated as a gentleman when he acts like one, to marry any sane grownperson who wants to marry him, and to meet and eat with his friends without being accused of undue assumption or unworthy ambition [emphasis the Survey's]."51 The editor claimed, "It was news in the Survey office that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was committed to the part of paragraph 6 which we have italicized...As journalists, our judgment was that here was something which would open wide the sluice gates of unreasoning controversy and race feeling."52 Du Bois dropped the implied endorsement but not the plank. This was ultimately insufficient for the Survey which dropped the piece, claiming readers would still confuse the man for the organization. When Du Bois publicized the incident claiming that the Survey refused to print it due to his endorsement of "social equality," the Survey responded with an editorial account of the incident calling Du Bois's version an "unsportsmanlike half-truth." It offered a masterful equivocation, characterizing the platform as "a creed which, however other Negro and white leaders may break with it as an ill-advised piece of social statesmanship, demands a fair hearing as an expression of self-respecting racial dignity."5 3 This style of racism management by northern whites was ubiquitous, and even Du Bois's colleague at the N A A C P Mary White Ovington used it in the pages of the Survey. In an article about the 1913 Conference on Negro Advancement, she quoted a Southern woman reformer as saying, We are children in our understanding of our social problems and in our feeling of responsibility toward them. You in the North have been thinking of these matters longer than we....We have seen the Negro problem as though it were 5 1 Untitled editorial, Survey 31, no. 26 (28 March 1914): 810. 5 2 Ibid., 810-811. 5 3 Ibid., 811. 21 something by itself. Now we are putting it in its relation to the rest of our world, in its rightful setting, and we are beginning to sympathize and to understand.54 Ovington was a white New Yorker, and her sense of gratification that her white Southern sisters were beginning to manage race by Northern standards was quite clear. White did in fact believe in social equality, and no doubt some reformers on the National Board did as well, but this spatial/racial epistemological move served to infantilize the South,55 arrogate the management of race and racism to white Northern reformers, and thereby implicitly justify their more frequent choice to ignore the issue of African Americans in the North altogether as an expert decision on the relative importance of the Negro and immigrant problems.56 The distinction between managing 5 4 Mary White Ovington, "Conference on Negro Advancement," Survey 30, no. 10 (7 June 1913): 322. 5 5 Larry J. Griffin writes of "the idea that the South exists on a visibly lower ethical plane" than "America," "Whether the South was thought 'savage,' or 'benighted,' or an 'American problem,' on the one hand, or 'traditional' or 'authentic,' on the other, almost everyone was sure that it was different, different from the Northeast, different from the Midwest and West....But the South wasn't just different, it was really different, importantly different; more, in the differentness of its history and its culture and in the way it meshed, or did not mesh, with mainstream America, the South was constructed to be something larger than the totality of its history and its people and their practices." Larry J. Griffin, "Southern Distinctiveness, Yet again, Or, Why America Still Needs the South," Southern Cultures 6, no. 6 (2000), 59, 57; also see Larry J. Griffin and Don H. Doyle, eds., The South as an American Problem (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995). This relationship between "the South" and "America" has often had imperialistic overtones, especially during and after Reconstruction; see Jamie Winders, "Imperfectly Imperial: Northern Travel Writers in the Postbellum US South, 1865-1880," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95, no. 2 (2005), 391-410. A more specific term for this imperialism would be Northernization, and as Richard Current points out, "Northernization has generally been synonymous with modernization," precisely the hope of Progressive northern reformers. Richard N. Current, Northernizing the South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983), 13. As I am arguing in this study, this modernization project was also to be a production of whiteness, an unmarked project whose cultural geography is dependent on the South; as Grace Elizabeth Hale puts it, "The region has been central to the erasure of the whiteness of American identity precisely because its dramas have been so graphic, so violent, so perversely pleasing." Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940 (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 282. 5 6 Allan Pred writes of present-day Sweden, which has experienced unprecedented immigration from non-European countries in the past two decades, "The evidence, knowledge and experience of racisms in their own midst frequently proves contradictory and difficult to accept for that majority of Swedes who have long viewed...their country as a champion of the oppressed, as a moral superpower on the world stage....The contradiction between the presence of racisms and central elements of national identity is time and again culturally reworked through spatial 22 race and managing racism is important here, for the former requires knowledge of the subordinated objects of management, in this case African Americans. It requires a will-to-knowledge more typical of colonial power, no matter how fearful, stereotyped or incomplete that knowledge may be, and such an epistemological stance has been territorialized through such concepts as terra incognita or terra nullius, terms which invite their own rectification. But when the management of racism is the primary goal, as in the case of reformers on the National Board, knowledge of subordinated peoples themselves can be dispensed with when convenient. Here it is the attitudes of whites that count, and there is instead a will-to-ignorance that becomes territorialized through the displacement of blame for their racist attitudes upon the very presence of the victims of that racism, such as African Americans. The places those victims inhabit, such as "the South" or "the ghetto," come to exist in a supplemental relationship to white space with no positive presence of their own. 5 7 One of the most effective ways to disavow such an issue as racism is the classic claim, "it can't happen here."58 1.1.4 S P A C E S O F D A N G E R Unruly audiences and their invisible counterparts were only one aspect of the reformers' object of regulation. Nickelodeons were urban spaces that had their own characteristic problems. Among reformers of all stripes, there was wide agreement that crowded picture houses were potential firetraps that were often unsanitary, and that rigorously enforced city ordinances were needed. Reformers varied widely on their assessment of moral dangers, however. While the most conservative reduced the nickelodeon's audience to both the most vulnerable and the most predatory elements, d i sp lacement . . . . In par t icu la r , mass m e d i a i m a g e r y f requent ly enables peop le to r ega rd r a c i s m as t y p i c a l of s o m e w h e r e else, of some place or space other than their o w n , of some other c o m m u n i t y , u r b a n center or par t of a m e t r o p o l i t a n area other than their o w n . " A l l a n P r e d , " S o m e b o d y Else , S o m e w h e r e Else : Rac i sms , R a c i a l i z e d Spaces a n d the P o p u l a r G e o g r a p h i c a l I m a g i n a t i o n i n Sweden , " Antipode 29, no . 4 (1997), 399-401. 5 7 H o m i B h a b h a discusses rac ia l d i s a v o w a l a n d supp l emen ta r i t y at the p s y c h i c l eve l i n terms of c o l o n i a l p o w e r re la t ions. H o m i K . B h a b h a , The Location of Culture ( L o n d o n : Rou t l edge , 1994). 23 others sought to individualize children and criminals as needing regulation while leaving the rest of the audience to enjoy the show. But no matter the particular assessment of opportunities presented by cinema, the physical and moral perils of nickelodeons were inextricably linked, and what may now seem an obvious point that the content of the films, the behavior of the audiences and the physical conditions of the theaters were separate issues cannot be assumed. Just as it took time for cinema to be differentiated from other public amusements, it took time for its problematic aspects to be fully individuated. In short, this separation was an argument that had to be made. Fire safety was of special concern because of the inflammability of the nitrate film stock that was used for moving pictures. This was exacerbated by the overcrowding of spectators and the frequent siting of nickelodeons in tenement blocks, and newspapers would sensationalize the risk of fires despite the fact that they were in reality quite rare. Nickelodeon managers complained bitterly about the press coverage, claiming that most actual fires had nothing to do with film igniting. Instead, they pointed out that most fires were caused by hazards common to all theaters, such as faulty stage lights and lanterns. They argued that proper safeguards such as running the film between brass rollers next to the lamp and encasing the uptake reel would extinguish any fire caused by overheating, and this combined with fire-proofing the projection booth and hiring competent operators would make nickelodeons inherently safe. While fire control was an issue for the press and the industry, it played an ambiguous role in national reform debates because fire codes were a strictly local matter, and the way it played out in local politics of cinema varied from city to city. Fire codes were brought up to date quite quickly in many cities by 1908 (with the notable exception of New York), but this greatly increased the expense for opening a movie theater. A settlement worker in Iowa noted that along with the cost of a fireproof projection booth, 5 8 See Pred, "Somebody Else, Somewhere Else. 24 "Insurance charges are quadrupled on building and contents where pictures are shown. Exits must be provided, also iron fire-escapes. In the interests of safety and to guard against a murderous panic in our audiences we have paid competent operators to project the pictures."59 In terms of the embourgeoisement thesis mentioned earlier, what did change markedly in the first few years was not so much the composition of audiences, but the physical space of the movie theater itself, and it was probably as much the requirements of city inspectors and insurance underwriters as it was the tastes of middle-class moviegoers that accounted for the increasingly elaborate and expensive theater setups. Fire wasn't completely absent from reformist discourse, however. When it was mentioned, it was usually metonymically linked with other physical hazards, especially disease, as in the instance of a writer for the Outlook claiming, "The shows are often in unsanitary, dangerous rooms which are frequently overcrowded."60 Tuberculosis was as communicable in a crowd as fire-induced panic, and the newly accepted germ theory of contagion led to minimum ventilation requirements and calls to curb spitting. The Moving Picture World advised, "[T]he place should be kept perfectly clean. It seems strange that it should be necessary to throw slides on the screen admonishing men not to spit on the floor, but in numerous nicolets this has to be done, otherwise under some seats huge pools of tobacco spit would be left to spoil the skirts of the lady who happened to be unfortunate enough to sit there."61 Yet the author had to concede, "This is said, too, knowing full well the fact that the cheap shows are quite likely to attract those who are not any too cleanly in their habits and who, all things considered, require to be admonished to do things which should, apparently, appeal to every man with any of the instincts of a gentleman."62 5 9 Ff. E. Downer, "Settlement Motion Pictures," Survey 31, no. 2 (11 October 1913): 60-61. 6 0 "Motion Pictures," Outlook 98 (24 June 1911): 382. 6 1 "The Conduct of the Show," MPW3, no. 19 (7 November 1908): 357. 6 2 Ibid. 25 The author quoted a nickelodeon manager, who claimed, "The more filthy the place is, the better the people around here seem to like it." 6 3 Another wrote, As for air it is impossible to suit all tastes— Some like it hot Some like it cold Some like it in the show Seven days old. 6 4 If fire receded fairly quickly as a concern, ventilation and sanitation continued to be seen as problems for a longer time (the manager-poet was writing in 1916), and the same patrons who enjoyed the foul surroundings were also reputed to be attracted to darkness. According to this same author, "Works of evil multiply under the cover of darkness and the danger of a poorly lighted theater to weak-minded and weak-willed young people can hardly be exaggerated."65 New York City alderman Ralph Folks, a member of the National Board of Review, bluntly stated, "Proper lighting is very necessary to prevent improper and offensive conduct on the part of some individuals of low moral standards who frequent all public places."66 A 1913 report on the condition of movies in Cleveland cited "cases of the ruin of young girls in badly lighted theaters," while John Collier announced that "unaccompanied children, seated for hours in semi-darkness amid a promiscuous crowd, are liable to all sorts of abuse."67 Low lighting, then, underscored the bodily vulnerability of children and others to sexual and criminal behavior, and the problem that "the habit of visiting these places leads children and young girls and boys into undesirable company, and paves the way to ruin in some cases."68 This somatic moral danger resonated with the physical dangers of fire, poor ventilation and sanitation, and 6 3 Ibid., 356. 6 4 "The Morals of the Movies: From the Standpoint of the Manager in the Small Town," Survey 25, no. 23 (4 March 1916): 662. 6 5 Ibid. 6 6 Ralph Folks, "Motion Picture Legislation," Playground 7, no. 6 (September 1913): 234. 6 7 "Voluntary Censorship of Cleveland 'Movies,'" Survey 30, no. 21 (23 August 1913): 640; John Collier, "Before Our Footlights: The School-keeping of the Motion-picture Showmen," Survey 34, no. 14 (July 3,1915): 320. 26 this sense of bodily assault was also used to understand the motivating power of suggestive films. 1.2 From Problem to Opportunity: The Plan of the Study This chapter has addressed the problematization of cinema in terms of its physical and moral dangers. And as I have already noted, problems can also be opportunities, and this was certainly how Progressive reformers approached the regulation of cinema. They saw it as a potentially powerful tool in their settlement work of assimilating New Immigrants and the urban working class to white, middle-class American citizenship, and it is this opportunity cinema presented to urban reformers that I explore in the rest of the study. To take advantage of this opportunity, reformers had to understand how cinema affected its spectators, and such a Progressive theory of spectatorship is the subject of chapter 2. Both reformers' and critics' accounts of cinematic perception underscored a visceral, physical quality of the film image that was unique to the medium. This haptic quality of film, the ability of its images to provoke the other senses, particularly touch and proprioception, and the perceptual psychology by which reformers understood it, underpinned the construction of a vulnerable audience in need of both protection and guidance because they had neither the moral fortitude to resist the temptations of the big city nor the intelligence to distinguish true from false.69 That these abilities could be gained or not meant to reformers that the process of perception giving rise to them was contingent upon environmental factors, both physical and social. In short, any given mode of perception was a historical product. This was an insight that Walter Benjamin held in common with Progressive reformers, but their accounts were very different. I turn to Benjamin's writings on perception because they have been extremely influential in current debates over cinematic spectatorship as well as urban spectatorship more generally. I show how Benjamin's 6 8 "Public Opinion as a Moral Censor," MPW1, no. 10 (11 May 1907): 148. 27 assumption that sight and touch offer different guarantees of knowledge and truth has influenced current accounts, and I then read Henri Bergson's account of perception, which Benjamin criticized, for its refusal to give ontological priority to either sight or touch. Bergson was a contemporary of reformers in the U.S., and he was highly influential upon them. Because their understanding of cinematic spectatorship was more often assumed than explained, I look to Bergson to help draw out a Progressive theory of spectatorship that is implicit in reformers' writings on cinema. Chapter 3 shifts attention from cinematic perception to its regulation. While it was apparent to reformers that audiences were quite heterogeneous, varying according to time of day, the type of theater and its location in terms of neighborhood, city and region, for those who advocated strong measures against moving pictures, the mere presence of the more vulnerable classes, especially children, was enough to justify prior restraint by government officials. It was this lowest-common-denominator approach that prompted the formation of the National Board. The infamous Canon William Sheafe Chase was vigorously protesting nickelodeons in New York City, and exhibitors, after watching the foment in Chicago, feared that they could be put out of business if they didn't respond. They approached Charles Sprague Smith of the People's Institute, which had conducted the aforementioned study of public amusements jointly with the Woman's Municipal League. Since the study's author, John Collier, reported favorably on motion pictures, citing the social needs they fulfilled in immigrant communities, the exhibitors asked the settlement house to review films prior to exhibition for their moral content and to recommend cuts where necessary. Given the machine politics and graft characteristic of Tammany Hall at the time, the last thing the trade wanted was a potentially capricious official censorship. But this "Board of Censorship qf Motion Pictures" would quickly come to be funded by the film manufacturers and become the National Board of Review because of a basic fact of the industry's economic geography. 6 9 "Intelligence" was used at the time either as a synonym for knowledge or as a category of innate capacity depending on the author. 28 Film production and distribution were mostly headquartered in New York—studios would not begin to relocate to Hollywood until 1913—and the censors for the Board had direct access to the original negatives and master prints, often just a few blocks away, and so they were in a position to mandate changes in a most direct way prior to any distribution. The National Board was staffed by volunteers working in a cooperative relationship with the industry. The Board would come to articulate its project as such: Film criticism is a practical matter. Those who review motion pictures must have some kind of a policy which is both practical and impersonal....It does not believe in coercion....Though it is a voluntary, extra-legal body having no legal power resident in itself, its decisions have the effect of legal verdicts through the co-operation of mayors, license bureaus, police departments and boards of public welfare in cities throughout the country where the official correspondents enforce the judgments of the National Board.7 0 This reads very much like Michel Foucault's political rationality of governmentality, "which is at once internal and external to the state."71 He defined governmentality as "[t]he ensemble formed by the institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, the calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific albeit complex form of power, which has as its target population, as its principal form of knowledge political economy, and as its essential technical means apparatuses of security."72 The operation of such power relies on the ubiquitous but largely unnoticed regulation of social variables rather than the spectacular exercise of state power—on technocratic expertise rather than the majesty of the law. There are of course major differences in the specifics which are extremely important to explore when using governmentality as a theoretical lens. A n important difference that I have already introduced is the principal form of knowledge. While political economy arguably took the population as a whole as its 7 0 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, The Standards and Policy of The National Board of . Review of Motion Pictures (New York: National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, 1 October 1916), 5. 7 1 Michel Foucault, "Governmentality" in Power: Essential Works ofFoucault 1954-1984, ed. James D. Faubian, trans. Robert Hurley, Vol. 3 (New York: The New Press, 2000), 221. 7 2 Ibid., 219-220. 29 object of knowledge, the reformers' account of the perceptual psychology at play in the regulation of cinema took the individual as its object of knowledge. However, as in Foucault's account, this individual was not given a priori; instead it was socially produced, embedded and active. The rationality of governmentality also involves an awareness of the limits of state intervention. Cinema arose at the same time that the state began to be consistently called upon to actively govern in the U.S. in the sense of solving social problems. This was highly contested at the time, and not just for moral qualms about state power. Many Progressives were pragmatists who were acutely aware of how state intervention could go wrong due to mismanagement and corruption. Board members were as keen as the trade to keep censorship out of official hands, but for reasons of purifying the polity rather than for pecuniary interests. But in their pragmatism (with a small "p") they recognized common interests at the concrete level with the industry as well as municipal officials, and they were happy to cooperate. This concreteness is crucial to an understanding of any governmental project, for the conditions in which they arise are intensely local and highly variable across the country. In the case of the formation of the National Board, Canon Chase was criticizing nickelodeons for violating Sunday-closure laws. His efforts to enforce blue laws regarding public amusements were in reaction to the large population of Eastern European Jews who had moved to New York City and were remaking its cultural landscape. He and other anti-Semites sought to reassert Anglo-Saxon Protestant hegemony by enshrining the Christian Sabbath as a day of enforced rest for all in the city, thereby denying working-class people of all faiths one of their favorite recreations on the only day off many had. While Chase saw film as the devil's apothecary shop, members of the National Board saw its potential for uplift, even on Sundays, and this educational and artistic use of cinema is explored in chapter 4. The haptic power of the moving image was seen by many as a boon to educators, who could show on film aspects of the world neither words nor the naked eye could convey. It enabled a "scientific" approach to education that combined "seeing-is-believing" with "learning-by-doing." Film was understood to 30 be mimetic, but this mimesis was not the atrophied sense of imitation by which the term is often dismissed. Instead it was understood as a creative participation in and appropriation of the world. This vision of science involved play, rather than mastery, for as Benjamin reminds us, true mastery of the world would be magic. While actuality footage had been a staple of early cinema and still was important, the National Board sought to build a market for educational films in schools and churches. Thomas Edison also saw the potential for educational films, and the Survey sent a group of educators and reformers to his laboratory to report on his efforts. One of the participants was John Dewey, the Pragmatist philosopher and educational reformer, and I look to his writings on perception in order to extend the discussion found in this fascinating document of Progressive thought on the educational potential of cinematic perception. But it wasn't just the physical world that could be probed in new ways by cinema. The social world was jalso the subject of its insights, for according to Progressive reformers human relationships were as subject to explanation as physical relationships, and so they wished to develop cinema's dramatic potential. Moral i understanding came through art, they argued, and so the artistic development of film became one of the Board's priorities. Fictional narrative film was still developing at the time, and reformers argued that a great dramatic film could be as educational as a film about the Bessemer furnace, and the distinction between narrative and documentary film was not so clear cut in terms of how they affected people. Rather than look at the emergence of fictional narrative cinema as a radical change in the positioning of spectators, I explore how reformers understood its emergence as continuous with other modes as they sought to regulate cinema. In chapter 5 I turn to the Board's response to several controversial films that were produced at a key moment in cinema's development. Race and sex were central to all of these films that caused trouble for the Board, and I offer readings focused on Traffic in Souls, a 1913 film that sensationalized the so-called white slave traffic, and The Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith's 1915 racist masterpiece. In Traffic, the heroine who rescues her little sister from the clutches of the white slavers is in many ways emblematic of the i 31 New Woman, the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century figure of the self-reliant white woman, a perceptually proficient governmental subject who belonged in and knew her way around both the public and private spaces of the city.7 3 While Progressive reformers debated the "realism" of the film's plot and more conservative censorship agitators condemned it for even broaching the subject of prostitution, the National Board passed it with little alteration. This sort of acquiescence was in itself significant as the Board's foes endlessly pointed out, and I explore how the apparently unexceptionable character of Mary Barton mobilized both white and heterosexual privilege as she exercised public agency in unraveling her sister's kidnapping. Mary is a subject of knowledge, a marked contrast to the African American characters in the film whom I read as objects of ignorance that mirror the disavowal of blackness on the part of Progressive reformers. In Birth of a Nation, the epistemological status of black and white characters is geographically determined at the national rather than urban scale, and the National Board took a much more active role in altering the film and its imaginative geography.74 I explore this in part through a reading of key changes in intertitles mandated by the Board. While 7 3 There is a voluminous literature on the history of the gendering of public and private spaces and spheres of action in liberal societies. Some examples I have found helpful include Paula Baker, "The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920," The American Historical Review 89, no. 3 (1984), 620-647; Sallie Marston, "Who are 'the People'?: Gender, Citizenship, and the Making of the American Nation," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 8 (1990), 449-458; Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract (Cambridge: Polity, 1988); Geraldine Pratt, Working Feminism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004); Lois Rudnick, "Feminist Utopian Visions in the Early 20th Century U.S." in Gender, I-Deology: Essays on Theory, Fiction and Film, eds. Chantal Cornut-Gentille D Arcy and Jose Angel Garcia Landa (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996), 181-193; Lynn Staeheli, "Publicity, Privacy, and Women's Political Action," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14 (1996), 601-619. 7 4 Edward Said describes the power of the discourse of Orientalism, which he describes as an "imaginative geography": "It is Europe that articulates the Orient; this articulation is the prerogative, not of a puppet master, but of a genuine creator, whose life-giving power represents, animates, constitutes the otherwise silent and dangerous space beyond familiar boundaries." Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 57; cited in Derek Gregory, Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), 170. Gregory, however, underscores not only the production of the discourse of Europe itself in this process, but its decidedly unsovereign agency that gets lost in Said's account. 32 Griffith saw racial conflict arising from northern African Americans not knowing their place and bringing such confusion to the South during Reconstruction, the Board sought to fix racial conflict firmly in the South itself. Here too national heterosexuality plays a role, and I look at how the productivity it enables whiteness is mapped onto sectional conflict. While films themselves offer imaginative, or more precisely, virtual geographies of race and sex, the geography of their regulation is more concrete, or actual.75 Films such as Traffic and Birth were always locally received, even when framed by national discourses. In chapter 61 look to two very different cities, Minneapolis and Atlanta, to show how both the objects and practices of regulation varied across the country. Despite facing a rate of immigration similar to other northern cities, reformers in Minneapolis appeared to be most concerned about a more home-grown group of migrants to the city. Young white women were arriving in large numbers from rural areas and working at poverty-level wages in textile-factory and clerical jobs. They were seen by reformers to be particularly prone to prostitution, a vulnerability which unsurprisingly prompted the regulation of public amusements, especially dance halls, a project that was also meant to conserve the productivity of these women's labor power. Because not everyone in Minneapolis was as convinced of cinema's haptic power as in some other places, the regulation of cinema was not always an end in itself. It was not until the city's small black community protested Birth of a Nation that the city's political 7 5 The virtual (imaginative) and the actual (concrete) are both real in that they both have effects in the world. The virtual is not synonymous with the possible; as Gilles Deleuze declares, following Henri Bergson, "The possible has no reality." Because the virtual or imaginative is real, its occurrence as an image on the screen is not a "mere" representation of something else in the "real world" as conventionally understood. I have chosen to use virtual/actual rather than imaginative/concrete, which is more common within the discipline of geography, for the sake of consistency with the Bergson- and Deleuze-inspired discussions in the following chapters. Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 96; see also Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: Essays on a Life, trans. Anne Boyman (New York: Zone Books, 2001), 31. Deleuze also elaborates the vitual/actual dyad in his Cinema volumes, but I find his account of the historical development of the movement-image and the 33 leaders took much notice of cinema. The mayor was involved in a struggle with the city council over the power to revoke hotel licenses to combat prostitution, itself highly racialized. The mayor banned the film, an action that had numerous precedents in other cities, in the hope of provoking a test case. It worked, and the mayor's executive discretion over licensing was reaffirmed. Film regulation in Atlanta had a somewhat different trajectory due to two factors. One was that movie-going was a white, middle-class activity from the start, and the other was its institution of legal segregation. Many public services were available only to whites, despite African Americans comprising one-third of the city's population. This included the public library, which was mandated by statute to censor films. In effect, statutory film regulation in Atlanta was by and for whites. The black community appears to have taken little notice of cinema at the time, and films such as Birth ran without comment. Instead business leaders sought economic development within the community as the basis for racial uplift, and again, conserving labor power was the key determinant in their reception of pubic amusements, whether dancing or movies. Black Minneapolitans, on the other hand, attempted to use the political machinery of the city to suppress Birth of a Nation, but once the mayor won his test case, he turned over the question of its exhibition to the city's fledgling volunteer censorship board, which then ignored African American concerns. Like the Atlanta board, the Minneapolis board of censors cooperated with the National Board in enforcing its alterations. But because the Minneapolis board was voluntary rather than statutory, it was used in National Board publicity campaigns as a workable compromise over local film regulation. Chapter 7, finally, looks at the Board's response to the rising tide of censorship legislation between 1916 and 1922, the year Will Hays was hired by the industry to institute self-censorship. Board members such as Collier were always loathe to lay down black-letter standards because they saw the process of film review as an ongoing time-image to be oddly recapitulationist, and thus teleological, and therefore unhelpful for my purposes of emphasizing the productivity of early film. 34 experiment. But by 1916 dissatisfaction among the volunteer censors themselves, whose complaints to the New York Commissioner of Licenses George Bell prompted him to publicly question the Board's usefulness, forced the Board to publicize more specific standards. At the same time, in recognition of its limits in promoting films for children and improving cinema as an art, the Board formed two spin-off committees, the National Committee on Films for Young People, and the Better Films movement. The review machinery of the Board came to be used to rate films rather than simply approve or condemn them, and the Board sent speakers all over the country not only to persuade state legislatures to vote down censorship bills, but to convince the women's clubs agitating for official censorship to form local committees for these "constructive" projects instead. Women were usually sent as speakers, and they were highly educated and accustomed to public respect; in short, they were exemplars of the New Woman. This could be a fraught exercise as the New York-based National Board discussed with the tour's sponsors in the South the appropriate comportment of the New Woman in public. The southern partners arranging the tours did not have a problem with the New Woman per se; instead, part of this negotiation of white womanhood involved educating the northerners on the "inter-racial problem" in the South, as images of white, female stars found their way into black theaters, "inflaming the negroes," as one white minister from Atlanta described it. As such, race and sex were inextricably linked in the regulation of cinema, and in its concrete manifestation this link was geographically determined. I conclude with a number of speculative conclusions about whiteness itself and its ties to national heterosexuality, because while blackness was disavowed by northern reformers, whiteness, as the privileged term, never needed mentioning. Whiteness is a fugitive presence in the archive of the Progressive era, and in many places this is mirrored in the study, as whiteness requires a great deal of coaxing. The unmarked character of whiteness in the white community itself of course has not changed very much, and so a goal of this study is to contribute to its marking, objectificatipn and interrogation. 35 1.2.1 A NOTE ON METHOD T h e racial c o m p l e x i o n of the U n i t e d States v a r i e d across the country then as it does n o w , a n d blackness was not the o n l y "other" to whiteness. N a t i v e A m e r i c a n s , A s i a n A m e r i c a n s a n d Latinos, then as n o w , were racialized g r o u p s that h a d their o w n particular social relationships to whites, as w e l l as to each other. A l l of these g r o u p s were important to the definition of whiteness, but as they were m o s t l y confined to specific areas of the West, they were geographical ly m a r g i n a l to the centers of economic, polit ical a n d social p o w e r i n the U n i t e d States where most of the regulation of c i n e m a occurred, a n d so I h a v e chosen to l imit m y focus to A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n s i n c o m p a r i s o n to whites. It is also important to note that whiteness itself was not quite the m o n o l i t h i c category as it is today, a n d it was the putative ability of certain E u r o p e a n i m m i g r a n t s to n o r t h e r n cities to become white that p r o m p t e d the so-called constructive project of f i l m regulation. A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n s h a d the distinction not o n l y of not b e i n g white, but of h a v i n g n o potential to b e c o m e so. T h i s was s i m p l y a s s u m e d , a n d as I have already discussed, m a n y white u r b a n reformers i n the Northeast a n d M i d w e s t certainly attempted to m a r g i n a l i z e the so-called N e g r o p r o b l e m as a distinctly southern p r o b l e m , but the g r o w i n g black c o m m u n i t i e s i n n o r t h e r n cities m a d e this displacement increasingly untenable, a n d all the m o r e jarring for it. W h i t e reformers' epistemic d i s a v o w a l of their black neighbors has its m i r r o r i n the archive. A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n s are grossly underrepresented i n the historical archive w h i l e whiteness is almost never explicitly m e n t i o n e d , a n d so m y r e a d i n g of racialization is i n some w a y s a r e a d i n g of b o t h forms of absence. A s Foucault put it, " T h e r e is not one but m a n y silences, a n d they are a n integral part of the strategies that u n d e r l i e a n d permeate discourses." 7 6 T h i s requires taking seriously the brute fact that the archive, a n d e v e n m o r e so the f i lm industry, themselves are o v e r w h e l m i n g l y white rather than taking it for granted as mere b a c k g r o u n d . It means taking whiteness to be a n active p r o d u c t i o n rather than s i m p l y a 7 6 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction (New York: Vintage Books, 1978), 27. 36 fact of life, whether biological or social. In short, it means objectifying whiteness in order to study it. The sources for this study include personal papers, organizational records, state and municipal documents, newspapers, trade papers and social work journals, as well as books and published reports that were influential at the time. Part of my reading of course involves reconstructing the sequence of specific events, but explaining those events is more difficult. I take it as axiomatic that discourse—in the linguistic sense—is a crucial component of how our world is produced, but the world is also equally materially produced. I look to the archive for both discursive and material practices that together produce power-effects such as whiteness,77 a combination Foucault referred to as a dispositif m an attempt to move beyond the limitations of Althusserian notions of ideology as a form of power.78 In English translations of Foucault's work, dispositif is a term that has been dissolved instead of reclaimed from its obsolete status in that language. Rather than use "dispositive," translators have used terms such as "apparatus" or "deployment," but to retain the original word for the concept underscores that power is an internalized effect of multiple practices (such as whiteness), rather than a singular, externalized thing to be possessed and wielded (such as property).79 It is this approach that makes this study a geographical work, for the 7 7 Nikolas Rose declares, "There is a history to be written of the subjects of government.. ..It is a little, variegated, multiple history of the objectifications of human beings within the discourses that would govern, and their subjectification in diverse practices and techniques." I am not so sure that the dyad objectification/subjectification can be so neatly mapped upon the dyad discourse/practice. Nikolas Rose, Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 41. 7 8 Althusser used the term "dispositif himself in "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses," but his use of the term is limited to the psychic life of the "free" subject from which "the (material) attitude of the subject concerned naturally follows," and so despite Althusser's insistence on the materiality of ideology, here material practice does not help constitute the subject—it follows from the already-constituted subject. Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy, trans. Ben Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), 167. 7 9 For example in "Society Must Be Defended," an original phrase regarding power, "ces differents dispositifs de pouvoir qui s'exercent, a des niveaux differents de la societe," is translated as "the various power-apparatuses that operate at various levels of society." Michel Foucault, 'Ilfaut defendre la societe': cours au College de France, 1975-1976, ed. Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana 37 spatiality of power is integral to its production.80 As David Theo Goldberg points out, racist discourse furnishes "material power" for exclusion, and "[t]o succeed so long in doing this, racist discourse has to be grounded in the relations of bodies to each other, and in ways of seeing (other) bodies."81 The geographical determinants of whiteness that I have already alluded to, such as the distribution and movement of racialized bodies at both the national and urban scales, are indispensable to an understanding of the regulation of cinema, for race was a primary lens through which urban reformers understood and acted within their world. And if racial relations varied across the country, so too must have regulatory projects such as this. This does not mean that this regulatory project would not have arisen in the locales that I study had the factors I identify not occurred. Cinema was a powerful new technology that begged a response, so its regulation would have emerged differently in different places by enrolling different social conflicts and producing different specific outcomes for different people. I am interested in how these specific, concrete effects happened. This raises the question of generalization in explanation. Race and regulation are certainly general categories, but this study is not a conventional history of race or regulation. Progressive era historiography has tended toward debating the trajectory of the time through seeking the resolutions of the era's conflicts. This is explanation by subtraction that does not seriously address the productivity of the apparent conflicts—or (Paris: Gallimard/Seuil, 1997), 13-14; Michel Foucault, "Society Must Be Defended:" Lectures at the College de France, 1975-1976, ed. Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), 13. 8 0 The Birth of the Clinic and Discipline and Punish are two works in which Foucault particularly emphasizes the spatial production of knowledge, and geographers have seized on the latter because of its emphasis on the architectonics of power. Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1975); and Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Penguin Books, 1977). 8 1 Goldberg argues racist discourse (he does not use the term dispositif, although that is ultimately what he is describing) is a form of disciplinary power and cites Foucault's definition from Discipline and Punish, "the investment of the body, its valorization, and the distributive management of its forces." David Theo Goldberg, "The Social Formation of Racist Discourse" in Anatomy of Racism, ed. David Theo Goldberg (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 305. 38 absences—themselves.82 Rather than history, this study fits more comfortably into the category of film studies, an area that seems to be coming to enjoy the status of an indiscipline (as geography already does) that has expanded its scope of inquiry from film content and style to cinematic reception and, more recently, to regulation. Annette Kuhn's 1988 study of the regulation of cinema and sexuality deserves special mention here, because here she emphasizes the productivity of reception and regulatory practices in regard to sexuality.83 My approach has much in common with Kuhn's, but while class, gender and even sexuality have been central analytical categories for some time, race has recently emerged at the forefront of a great deal of film scholarship. Siobhan Somerville has recently shown how racial divisions were central to the production of sexualities in early film and other forms of cultural discourse in the U.S. 8 4 Lee Grieveson and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart in particular have investigated the racialization of legal film regulation and the relationship between film and the Great Migration, and i Whitewatching expands the direction all these scholars have taken by decentering the state as a regulatory agency of cinema, race and sexuality, and by showing how the movement and territorialization of racialized groups had important epistemological consequences for this reformist project. I borrow a great deal from film theory and elsewhere, but it is the spatial relations of race and regulation that make this work a cultural geography of governance. 8 2 For a useful overview of debates over discourse and narrative in historiography, particularly Hayden White's appropriation of Foucault's concept of the episteme, see chapter 1 in Alun Munslow, Discourse and Culture: The Creation of America, 1870-1920 (London: Routledge, 1992), 224. 8 3 Annette Kuhn, Cinema, Censorship and Sexuality, 1909-1925 (London: Routledge, 1988). 8 4 Siobhan B. Somerville, Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000). 39 — C H A P T E R 2— Sensational Cinema: Cinema as Social Opportunity TH E S P A T I A L segregation of movies made the "cheap theatre problem" possible, but the movies' effects on its spectators made it urgent. Enemies of cinema told stories of boys starting their criminal careers in nickelodeons by pickpocketing according to instructions on the screen. They imagined girls heading straight to the brothel after the show as they conflated the screen's and procurer's promises of glamour and excitement in the big city. While Canon Chase and the Chicago Tribune focused on what they saw as film's immediate effects to call for its abolition, Progressive reformers focused on the same in order to begin to articulate cinema as a social opportunity. Critics frequently complained that films were "sensational," and they meant this quite literally. Cinema was not just sensational in the spectacular sense; it was sensational because its visuality provoked the other senses as well as actions. Vision was a direct conduit for action, and it was this capacity that Progressive reformers sought to harness for the uplift and education of their charges. For this project they put into action the findings of perceptual psychology, which suggested that human perception was not an unchanging capacity, but instead an ever-shifting adaptive response to the environment. John Collier (fig. 4), cofounder and secretary of the National Board, had attended talks by Sigmund Freud's rival psychologist Pierre Janet in Paris, and the vitalist philosopher Henri Bergson was 4 0 Outdoor portrait of Collier wearing hat. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. Image 7159. Image removed due to copyright restrictions. Figure 4. John Collier in the Great Smoky Mountains, 1907. John Collier Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. becoming a darling of the lecture circuit in the United States.85 Likewise William James, Charles Peirce and John Dewey were among the foremost American Pragmatist thinkers of the time and profoundly influenced the thinking of Progressive reformers. These psychologists and philosophers from both sides of the Atlantic produced an account of a free, self-governing subject that superficially resembled the unitary, sovereign subject of classical liberalism. But they did not assume this subject; they explained it. For them, human beings' capacity for agency and choice was a material product of biological evolution, while the actualization of this capacity in a given individual was a social 8 5 John Collier, From Every Zenith: A Memoir and Some Essays on Life and Thought (Denver: Sage Books, 1963), 62. 41 process vulnerable to all kinds of impediments, whether biological illness, social deprivation or cultural backwardness. These thinkers were enormously influential in the general intellectual climate of the time, but they were theorizing what many already knew in practice—that technologies of the previous century had radically changed the way humans perceived and experienced the world. 8 6 And if perception and experience were historically contingent upon environmental factors, so too must be behavior. Reformers reasoned that if they could change the cinematic environment, they could change the behavior of cinema's spectators. But in order to do so they needed an understanding of spectatorship itself, for the cinematic spaces and images reformers could directly control were one step removed from the activity of viewing and perceiving films that was the ultimate human object of regulation. The theory of spectatorship I will explore in this chapter is not my own, and it is not based on my empirical observation of spectators, historical or otherwise. Instead it is a theory that was implicitly held by Progressive reformers. It might be more appropriate from a current perspective to call this a Progressive discourse of spectatorship, given that it emerged from numerous scattered sources, whether the popular press, trade publications, reform journals or contemporary philosophy which I will outline below, rather than as one, singular, coherent narrative. But Progressive reformers regarded their regulatory activities as experiments and their discourses as testable hypotheses, and therefore theories. This provisionality sets the Progressive theory of spectatorship apart from much of the theorizing that came after, some of which I will look to as both retrospectives on early film and as counterpoints to earlier film theory. 8 6 Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990); Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: Trains and Travel in the 19th Century, trans. Anselm Hollo (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980). 42 2.1 "A Thrilling Drama" The 1907 furor over moving pictures in Chicago that sparked the whole censorship movement can in large part be ascribed to one film, according to Lee Grieveson.87 The Unwritten Law: A Thrilling Drama Based on the Thaw-White Case (USA 1907, Lubin) dramatized the murder of the infamous playboy-architect Stanford White by millionaire Harry Thaw, a murder that led to the first so-called trial of the century. Thaw had married Evelyn Nesbit, famed ex-Gibson girl (fig. 5) who had formerly been in a relationship with White. Out of jealousy he shot White on the roof-garden at Madison Square Gardens—designed by White himself—three times in the face. The press ran stories with lurid innuendo about White's sex life, all the while professing its own delicacy. In an article titled " A Dramatic and Terrible Murder," The New York Evening Journal offered this apology for its coverage of the story. "It is not pleasant to speak harshly of a man scarcely cold in his grave. But beyond the sentimental respect felt for the dead, and beyond the horror of dealing with the shameful details of lives unmentionable, there is a duty to the public in the face of great danger that cannot be ignored.. ..Almost every F i g u r e 5 E v d y n N e s W t i n «Eternal human being in this country has discussed this Question," Charles Dana Gibson, Eighty Drawings including the terrible killing of one man by another. And a Weaker Sex (New York: Charles Scribners and Sons, 1903). Drawing of Nesbit. Image removed due to copyright restrictions. Lee Grieveson, "The Thaw-White Scandal, The Unwritten Law, and the Scandal of Cinema," in Headline Hollywood: A Century of Film Scandal, ed. Adrienne McLean and David Cook (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001). 43 newspaper which speaks to millions, and for millions, cannot avoid a share in the discussion."8 8 The subheading ran, "It Reveals a Hideous Picture, but the Picture Cannot be Hidden," using Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey to underscore the illicit sexuality of the parties involved, but more importantly, linking this sexuality to anxieties surrounding the power of vision. The Evening Journal metaphorically aggrandized its power to convey a story and to titillate by comparing its written story to a visual image. The lack of an image, at least in this story, adds to the allure of reading such a sensational account by reinforcing the threat the "hideous picture" posed to the viewer's moral sense should it in fact be revealed in the form of an image.89 Coverage of the Thaw-White trial did in fact help to bring on the emergence of tabloid journalism, and the newly intense visuality of the popular press, whether through its prose or its images, and public criticism of such sensationalism, was available to both the producers and the would-be censors of the moving picture.90 Actuality footage was in fact a staple of early cinema, but it took the portrayal of scandal for the genteel classes to take notice. According to Lee Grieveson, "The Unwritten Law became a dense transfer point between the Thaw-White scandal and the production of a 'moral panic' about cinema that had far-reaching implications for the shaping of cinema at this moment when what cinema would become was malleable and up for grabs."91 He points to three major issues surrounding the profound changes affecting urban society which the scandal and its cinematic version helped articulate with cinema in general: "concerns about pleasure superseding traditions of self-restraint, hard work, and respectability; concerns about sexual immorality and perversity; and 8 8 "A Dramatic and Terrible Murder," New York Evening Journal, 29 June 1906; available at http://evelynnesbit.com/revnyej.html. 8 9 I do not mean to discount the disingenuousness of William Randolph Hearst in this editorial line! 9 0 For a general history of media and perceptual change, see Wiley Lee Umphlett, The Visual Focus of American Media Culture in the Twentieth Century: The Modern Era, 1893-1945 (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004). The role of the Thaw-White trial is discussed on pp. 74-75. 9 1 Lee Grieveson, "The Thaw-White Scandal," 29. 44 anxieties about the vulnerability of women in the public sphere of commercialized leisure." Thus he sees the scandal and film as part of "a broader 'regulatory space/"92 a term that "refers to the wider structures and more general aims of particular interventionist systems, in particular to the panoply of regulatory issues subject to public decisions, debates, and often governmental intervention."93 The industry was well aware of the moving picture's place in this regulatory space. In the pages of the Moving Picture World, for example, the editor responded to calls for state suppression by claiming The Unwritten Law was the exception. One of the first cities to suppress the film was Minneapolis, where the license inspector was called to a theater on lower Hennepin Avenue in downtown, in which "[i]t was alleged that the majority of the patrons of the house were boys and girls and the pictures were 'mind poisoning.'"94 Houston police stopped the exhibition of the film, even though "[t]he manager offered to cut out the mirrored bedroom scene."95 These individual police actions around the country against a single film didn't trouble the trade paper's editor, however. What was alarming to many in the trade was the reaction in Chicago, where the Chicago Tribune declared war against the entire industry: [T]he average five cent theater does not have a single thing to commend it. Its influence is wholly vicious. It belongs with the lowest kind of dance hall, where the enjoyment of a popular form of recreation is made subservient to the pandering to the basest passions of wicked men and women. The complaints against it are constant. Those who are working to reclaim wayward children are united in their demand that the five cent show must go. Their cry should be reinforced by the protests of all good citizens. When an institution is everywhere recognized as evil in its influence it should not be tolerated for a day in a community where truth and honor and good citizenship are urged as worthy of the aspirations of childhood. There is no voice raised to defend the great majority of the five cent theaters because they cannot be defended.96 9 2 Ibid. 9 3 Ibid., 45, fn. 14. 9 4 Untitled article, MPW 1, no. 4 (30 March 1907): 57. 9 5 "Houston Authorities Object to Picture of Thaw-White Tragedy," MPW 1, no. 7 (20 April 1907): 102. 9 6 "The Five Cent Theaters," Chicago Tribune, 10 April 1907; reprinted in MPW 1, no. 7 (20 April 1907): 101. 45 The paper reproduced the editorial along with a response by George Kleine, a major film importer based in Chicago, who called on readers "to eliminate those film subjects that justify criticism on account of their moral tone." The paper itself chided the producers, saying, "[I]f manufacturers of films will only take a word in season and strive to uplift rather than pander to the lower ideas of mankind, all persecution will cease." The Chicago City Club commissioned a report on the nickelodeon and declared, "Here was a little too much realism of the wrong sort."97 While the Tribune pressed for the complete abolition of nickelodeons and penny arcades, Jane Addams recognized their importance to immigrants and the working class and their potential in settlement work and proposed to the City Club that they be regulated rather than suppressed.98 The World's editor breathed a sigh of relief: "We are glad...to see that in Chicago, at least, less stringent methods are to be adopted." The actual method adopted was a censorship composed of ten detectives and one lieutenant from the Chicago police charged with destroying "any pictures found of a morbid or criminal nature" and prosecuting the theater owners.99 This brought about a temporary "improvement" in the pictures in Chicago,1 0 0 and Jane Addams herself opened a model theater at Hull House. Her credibility even prompted the Chicago Tribune to back down somewhat on its editorial line. "Perhaps it is going a little too far to class all five-cent theaters as the 'devil's apothecary shops...' Any enterprise personally or by authority conducted by the devil, which threatens the welfare of children, can be suppressed without much difficulty."101 Even so, the Chicago police, reformers and clergy continued their vigilance of nickelodeons. The controversy sparked by the Thaw-White picture was only just beginning, and a year later, the World's editor chastised its readers. "Although the Thaw-White pictures were suppressed in many places last year, they are again being flaunted by managers who see in them the 9 7 Untitled article, MPW1, no. 17 (29 June 1907): 263. 9 8 "Public Opinion as a Moral Censor," MPW 1, no. 10 (11 May 1907): 147. 9 9 Untitled article, MPW 1, no. 10 (11 May 1907): 152. 1 0 0 Untitled article, MPW 1, no. 16 (22 June 1907): 248. 46 sensational feature that is calculated to draw a crowd." 1 0 2 He went on to recommend that "[t]he exhibitors' associations in all cities, the renters and the manufacturers should unite in exercising a wholesome restraint upon a certain element among the exhibitors and managers who let their baser instincts run riot and use their theater privilege as a means of pandering to the lowest strata of the community."103 Such trade papers were important vehicles for moralizing film within the industry. Grieveson notes of their efforts, "The Unwritten Law was produced as 'other' to a respectable and moral cinema. This position would lead to support for self-regulatory censorship bodies that could police the morality of individual films and also to the emergence of a narrative configuration...closely imbricated with moral discourse."104 Finally, he links concerns over cinema and its audiences to "regulating and governing populations." "Contestations over film texts are one of the principal forums for discussions of moral norms, of how people are to live—a particularly pressing question in the United States in the early years of the twentieth century."105 Grieveson firmly establishes The Unwritten Law in the discursive web that produced cinema as a problem, which I outlined in the previous chapter, and a strategy of governmentality which led to the establishment of the National Board, which will be the subject of the next chapter. Yet cinema's agency, how its power operates, is only gestured toward. I wish to take the openings in Grieveson's Chicago-based account and expand on the ways cinema was produced as a social agent by reformers through their understanding of the reception of motion pictures by audience members. What is striking about the three issues Grieveson identifies—pleasure vs. character, "immoral" sex and vulnerable women—is that they rely on a sensational logic of the body and its discipline. Anxieties surrounding sensual gratification, an expanded 101 "Wicked Five-Cent Theatres," MPW 1, no. 38 (23 November 1907): 615. 1 0 2 "The Importance of Running a Clean Show," MPW 3, no. 6 (8 August 1908): 100. 1 0 3 Ibid. 1 0 4 Lee Grieveson, "The Thaw-White Scandal," 42. 47 realm of sexuality and the public comportment of women were anxieties about "how people are to live" at the individual bodily level. To this series I would add the arrival of racialized migrants. The body and its senses were becoming pleasurable in new ways, both through the public assertiveness of women and through the leisure practices brought to industrial cities by people such as eastern and southern Europeans and African Americans, and one of these new pleasures was cinema. Progressive reformers took technological development for granted, and so their task was not to put the genie back in the bottle as more conservative reformers would have done, but to guide its effects in what they saw as an appropriate direction. Cinema operated primarily, but not exclusively, through the eyes of the spectators, and the sensational power of its visuality was frequently touted as the source of cinema's agency, for better or for worse. The suspicion of cinematic sensationalism first provoked by The Unwritten Law was often articulated in the language of medicalized sexuality. Sherman Kingsley noted in his summary of the 1907 Chicago City Club report, "Aroused by hold-up scenes, shoplifting episodes.. .children get into trouble."106 The Survey described a lecture by another educator, stating, "He recognized the good in this form of amusement but deplored the extent to which it excites taste for scenes of passion and violence and gratifies 'nervous inquietude and superficiality.'"107 The erotics of reformers' worries over the bodily effects of visuality were complex and contradictory, but also informed by an intellectual climate in which the physiology and psychology of perception were under close scientific investigation.108 It was by then quite clear that vision was not an unmediated sense, and the new experience of cinema was convincing evidence that sense-perception in general was at least in part historically 1 0 5 Ibid., 41. 1 0 6 Sherman C. Kingsley, "The Penny Arcade and the Cheap Theatre," Charities and the Commons [Survey] 24 (8 June 1907): 295. 1 0 7 "Moral Nurture of Young," Survey 29, no. 13 (23 November 1912): 249. los g e e Nicholas Pastore, Selective History of Theories of Visual Perception: 1650-1950 (London: Oxford University Press, 1971). 48 determined.109 However these studies did not specifically look at cinema, leaving reformers to attempt to theorize its agency at a more technocratic level. Yet while reformers were skeptical of vision, it was not so much for lack of representational veracity, but for the immoral sensations, passions and actions which cinematic vision could elicit. Because Progressive reformers advocated a move away from "political" governance in the U.S. toward "scientific," technocratic management by experts, it is worthwhile to look at some of their epistemological practices. It has been a commonplace in scholarship to equate ocularcentrism with distance, abstraction, objectivity and mastery, and feminist, Marxist and poststructuralist scholars in particular have devalued those terms as striving for a Cartesian subject that was masculinist and bourgeois.110 More recently this view has been challenged within critical thought through explorations of the empirical fact that vision is both embodied and imbricated in the other senses, and thus it is situated and inherently provisional rather than a "god-trick of seeing everything from nowhere," as Donna Haraway famously puts it. 1 1 1 While certain strands of modern thought and visual practice certainly did aspire to panopticism, others attempted to grapple with the situatedness and partiality of the observer—for what is Cartesian doubt but the knowledge that 1 0 9 Hermann von Helmholtz, who pioneered empiricist accounts of perception, wrote in 1868, "[N]one of our sensations give us anything more than signs for external objects and movements and.. .we can learn how to interpret these signs only through experience and practice." It took only the one further step of interrogating "experience" to allow for a social account of perception. Hermann von Helmholtz, Selected Writings of Hermann Von Helmholtz, ed. Russell Kahl (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1971), 196. 1 1 0 Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). 1 1 1 Donna J. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 189; see also Doreen Massey, "Power-Geometry and a Progressive Sense of Place" in Mapping the Future: Global Cultures, Local Change, ed. John Bird and others (New York: Routledge, 1993), 59-69. 49 omniscience is impossible because the senses cannot be trusted?112 I want to examine some of the Progressive Era thinking on visuality and the ways in which it was taken up in reformist discourse, because even if vision was sometimes assumed to be dominant, it was by no means sovereign. We are accustomed to thinking of the image as being mediated by visual perception, but Progressive reformers proposed a more reciprocal interaction. While seeing was definitely believing, belief was still just that—something of an act of faith based on our participation in the world rather than an unmediated process of observing external reality, and the regulation of cinema would require a more self-reflexive stance than might accompany a positivist approach.113 2.1.1 T H E HAPTICS OF CINEMA; OR, T H E ANNIHILATION OF SPACE BY TIME It was generally agreed and often feared that visual images could stimulate other senses, emotions and, ultimately, actions, and Progressive-era commentators offered numerous observational accounts of this effect. One reason for this fascination was that cinema was the most recent in a series of nineteenth-century technologies and representational practices that dramatically shifted human perception by reducing both spatial and temporal distance. Trains, telegraphs and telephones all served as prosthetics that effectively shrank the world; likewise panoramas, dioramas and photography enabled a "virtual gaze" to similar effect.114 Architecture itself was put to the service of human mobility, with such spaces as arcades, department stores, 1 1 2 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 273-280; Crary, Techniques of the Observer, 48; Graham MacPhee, The Architecture of the Visible (London: Continuum, 2002), 29-32. 1 1 3 For an exploration of such acts of faith required by Pragmatism and other anti-foundationalist philosophies, see Daniel S. Malachuk, "'Loyal to a Dream Country': Republicanism and the Pragmatism of William James and Richard Rorty," Journal of American Studies 34, no. 1 (2000), 89-113. 1 1 4 Anne Friedburg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); see also David B. Clarke and Marcus A. Doel, "Engineering Space and Time: Moving Pictures and Motionless Trips," Journal of Historical Geography 31 (2005), 41-60. 50 exhibition halls and railway stations "changing the relation between spatial perception and bodily motion."1 1 5 The railroad in particular was a crucial technology for pre-positioning cinematic spectators at the perceptual level because its unprecedented speed radically changed the experience of mobility through blurring the foreground and seemingly disengaging the observer from the environment.116 Lynne Kirby has extended this argument first made by Wolfgang Illuminated sign advertising "Automatic One Cent Vaudeville. Image removed due to copyright restrictions. Figure 6. Nickelodeons borrowed from the visual style of the sensational press. Crystal Hall, 14th Street, New York City, 1909 by H. Lyman Broening. From Victor Milner, "Fade Out and Slowly Fade In," American Cinematographer, September 1923,4. Schivelbusch to shown how early film producers frequently depicted cinema's kinesthetic debt to the distinctly modern experience of riding trains.117 Yet while railroads were ubiquitous in films, the most common explicit comparison drawn in contemporary debates was with the printing press, for while the train annihilated space by time through bringing the spectator to the scene much faster than before, its reproduction by the press brought the scene to the spectator. Mechanical reproduction exponentially multiplied the presence of images in everyday life, and their sheer ubiquity meant that a given image had to do more to be noticed (fig. 6). Changes in newsprint technology such as the ability to cheaply reproduce photos prompted changes in the visual style of newspapers and magazines, and the sensational press and advertisers were quick to use the power of images to provoke the senses, emotions and actions.118 Moving Picture World reprinted an 1 1 5 Giuliana Bruno, "Site-Seeing: Architecture and the Moving Image," Wide Angle 19, no. 4 (1997), 8. 1 1 6 Schivelbusch, Railway Journey. 1 1 7 "Cinema" and "kinesthetic" come from the same Greek root for movement. See Lynne Kirby, Parallel Tracks: The Railroad and Silent Cinema (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997). 1 1 8 Umphlett, Visual Focus of American Media Culture, 74-75. 51 "adman's" description of the impulsive yet ephemeral character of images and the modern mind. "The human mind, as Mr. W.I. Scandlin, the eminent American authority on 'publicity' says, is so constructed that impressions created in it are quickly effaced and are replaced for the time being by others of more recent or engrossing interest."119 The invention of the moving picture accelerated this process to 18 frames per second and more. Thus cinema was a round in the never-ending cycle of time-space compression that characterizes capitalist modernity. In the Grundrisse Karl Marx characterized the geographical consequences of the circulation of capital. "The more developed the capital...the more extensive the market over which it circulates, which forms the spatial orbit of its circulation, the more does it strive simultaneously for an even greater extension of the market and for greater annihilation of space by time."1 2 0 David Harvey reformulated Marx's insight as "time-space compression" in order to foreground the consequences of this reduced friction of distance for representation and subjectivity. Rather than an "annihilation" of space, this process was a "spatial and temporal restructuring," because "the collapse of spatial barriers does not mean that the significance of space is decreasing."121 Cinema was particularly suited as a representational practice to enact through montage the time-space compression which instantaneously bridged distant places and establish relationships between them. As one reformer put it, "The motion picture has as its field the sum-total of human experience. The camera enlarges the field of the stage a hundred-fold."122 But the moving picture also just as speedily dissolved the relationships it produced, and Harvey worries about the subjective effects of such spatial restructuring, 1 1 9 Reprint of undocumented article from The Photographic Dealer in "The Right Kind of Advertising," MPW 1, no. 10 (11 May 1907): 149. 1 2 0 Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy, trans. Martin Nicolaus (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), 539. 1 2 1 David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 271, 293. 1 2 2 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, The National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures (New York: National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, 1915), 10. 52 citing Alvin Toffler's notion of the "throwaway society" coined in the 1960s. "It meant more than just throwing away produced goods (creating a monumental waste-disposal problem), but also being able to throw away values, life-styles, stable relationships, and attachments to things, buildings, places, people, and received ways of doing and being."1 2 3 Given the inherently expansionary logic of capitalism, this increase in speed is accompanied by an increase in geographic coverage and lowered cost, and thus a greater accessibility of the throwaway society to a wider spectrum of people. Harvey and other geographers have explored the two outcomes of this process—the homogenization of local places into uniform global space on the one hand and the intensely local appropriation of and reaction to information and commodities on the other.124 The latter has been seized upon by some as capitalism's Achilles' heel in that it serves as an opportunity for radical democratic and even revolutionary political action.125 But while much of this scholarship focuses on post-World War II consumer i society in the pursuit of our current putative postmodernity, the war—and the preceding depression—were an interregnum in processes well underway. Progressive reformers were also fixated on the democratic potential for capitalism, but for them, capitalism with its drive for time-space compression through technological change was not the great leveler despite itself, but for itself. Civilization, all through the history of mankind, has been chiefly the property of the upper classes, but during the past century civilization has been permeating steadily downward. The leaders of this democratic movement have been general education, universal suffrage [sic], cheap periodicals and cheap travel. To-day the moving picture machine cannot be overlooked as an effective protagonist of democracy. For through it the drama, always a big fact in the lives of the people at the top, is now becoming a big fact in the lives of the people at the bottom. Two million of them a day have so found a new interest in life. 1 2 6 1 2 3 Harvey, Condition of Postmodernity, 286. 1 2 4 Ibid., 271. 1 2 5 See for example Julie-Kathy Gibson-Graham, The End of Capitalism (as we knew it): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996). 1 2 6 Joseph Mendill Paterson, undocumented reprint from the Saturday Evening Post, MPW 2, no. 2 (11 January 1908): 22. 53 Instead of bringing the alienation, objectification and false consciousness that commentators only a generation later would see, motion pictures brought real life to the weary masses, according to Progressive reformers. In short, "Motion pictures did for the drama exactly what the printing-press did for the literature of the world—it carried the very best to the great public, at the lowest possible price."1 2 7 2.1.2 T H E B O D I L Y P L E A S U R E S O F T I M E - S P A C E C O M P R E S S I O N While cinema enlarged the stage by bringing the world directly to millions of spectators, rich and poor alike, it also annihilated space and time within the individual body by speeding up the perceptual process and reduced the individual's capacity for critical attention. It did this through eliminating time for contemplation and producing a "state of distraction," as Siegfried Kracauer put it. 1 2 8 White, middle-class reformers were accustomed to art that was both narrative and symbolically based, including music, which required extended linear contemplation. While narrative film was developing already as cinema came to be problematized by 1907 (and it was the narrative content of The Unwritten Law that initially sparked outrage), intertitles presented a minimum of verbal information, and it was the pure visuality of cinema that was truly novel and quickly became the focus of concern. To these ostensibly logocentric reformers, the movie camera did little to mediate the kinesthetic experience of the activities projected on the screen, and they understood this mimetic capability to be the source of pleasure for the audience. One newspaper noted, "The invention of the biograph and similar machines has made it possible to depict life and motion in a very realistic and fascinating manner."129 It went on, "Persons in search of amusement, whether old or young...want life, action, fun, and plenty of it. A baseball match, a 1 2 7 [Orrin Cocks?], Draft speech, [1911?], New York Public Library Manuscripts and Archives Section, Records of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, box 170, folder 1, p. 3. (hereafter cited as NBRMP). 1 2 8 Sigfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays, trans. Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), 323-330. 1 2 9 "Public Opinion as a Moral Censor," 148. 54 football game, a yacht race, a country fair, a circus—anything that corresponds to what they enjoy in actuality—will be enjoyed with zest in a picture show and will not be likely to injure manners or morals appreciably..."130 Another writer suggested, "[F]or some time the public went to see the pictures chiefly to see the figures in them move with lifelike action, and not on account of any photographic art or realism in action, so far as the picture as a whole was concerned" [my emphasis].131 This last remark is particularly telling, for "realism" did not refer to mere representational accuracy, but an entire artistic movement that narrated the social conditions of ordinary people. This writer was responding to another's call for more "art" in motion pictures. "The moving picture possesses the same elements of permanence as the stage does, with the added advantage of brevity. In ten minutes a well-constructed, well-acted picture drama excites all the emotions which can be imparted by a comedy, melodrama or tragedy of two hours' duration, but to fulfill its mission the picture drama must possess excellence and the acting must be good."1 3 2 Yet even as narrative film was emerging and films such as The Unwritten Law dramatized news stories or adapted fictional stories, the power of their narratives derived in no small part from their kinesthetic productions of the story lines.1 3 3 Thus the emergence of narrative did not end discussion of visuality and affect as commentators remarked upon the rapt attention of audience members, as in this 1908 description of a showing of A Hold-up in Calabria. "Not more than three or four yards of the film had been clicked off, however, before the audience began to sit up and take notice. Then it began to applaud. The third and last stage of its interest was emphasized by its sitting on the edges of its seats with hundreds of pairs of eyes riveted 1 3 0 Ibid. 1 3 1 Edward S. Clark, "The Phenomenal Success of the Moving Picture Show," MPW 2, no. 10 (7 March 1908): 188. 1 3 2 Hans Leigh, "A Coffin for the Theatorium," MPW 2, no. 8 (22 February 1908): 135. 1 3 3 A useful collection that explores the development of narrative in early cinema remains Thomas Elsaesser, ed., Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative (London: BFI Publishing, 1990). 55 on the canvas where the pictures played, and uproarious applause at the end of each picture chapter."134 Such absorption could become an addiction, with spectators contracting "moving picturitis"135 which could infect an entire city with "a bad attack of nickelodeonitis."136 But of course the more serious and pressing charge was that this rapture could lead to the reenactment of immoral actions shown in the film. "The motion picture, particularly, would be a stronger influence...than reading the story. The scene is enacted with lifelike vividness before the eyes of the audience. It ought to be comparatively easy for anyone to go out and do likewise. It is impossible to be too careful about these influences. They are subtle and persuasive and their effect is far more powerful than anything that can possibly be written."137 Silent motion pictures provoked impulses largely without the leavening of language. Their behavioral effect was temporally immediate, and it was assumed that the submerged masses lacked the appropriate habits and the moral and intellectual training to control them. 2.2 Progressive Spectatorship So far I have documented early 20th-century assertions that cinema was visually immediate, that it triggered sensations of touch and proprioception—the sense of bodily location and movement in space—and that this haptic vision prompted emotions and actions without the deliberation over and transformation of perceptions purported to be enabled only by language and narrative. Cinema not only compressed time and space through bringing the world to the spectator and reducing geographical constraints on the effects of events in one place on people in another, but it also did so by reducing the 1 3 4 From unnamed Louisville daily newspaper, "Films that Please," MPW 2, no. 11 (14 March 1908): 209. 1 3 5 From undated Grand Rapids Press, "The Nickelodeon as a Business Proposition," MPW 3, no. 4 (25 July 1908): 62. 1 3 6 From undated Indianapolis News, "The Vogue of the Motion Picture," MPW 3, no. 5 (1 August 1908): 83. 1 3 7 Burton H. Alber, "Character of Your Pictures," MPW 3, no. 7 (15 August 1908): 120. 56 psychological constraints on the effects of external events on the actions of individuals. But how did reformers explain this process at the psychic level? The glib answer would be that they didn't, and at a systematic level that is true for the early years of the censorship movement. This phenomenon seemed self-evident to friends and foes of cinema alike, and it would not be until reformers started seriously pushing for educational films in the early 1910s that they considered this question in more depth, and I will explore this in chapter 4. Instead, what was important to them at this point were the social effects of this powerful mobilization of the senses and their philosophical ramifications. One such effect was the emergence of yet another vector for general speculation on "the primitive." Cinema was paradoxical in that this most modern medium of "civilization" could short-circuit the spectator's moral inhibitions and cognitive brakes through its sensory appeal, unleashing unbridled primitive passion. This was a common reaction to a great deal of artistic experimentation in the first decade Of the twentieth century, and this binary opposition between primitive and civilized was such a pervasive assumption it was rarely explicitly mentioned. This colonial product of capitalist modernity was of course inextricably linked with race, and these superimposed hierarchies of civilized/white and primitive/black informed many theories and philosophies of social change and the positioning of film spectators within that process. Yet theories of film spectatorship until recently tended to elide these inherently social distinctions and capacities. Apparatus theory, which positions the spectator both technologically and ideologically, often in a psychoanalytic register, has posited a viewing subject that Miriam Hansen describes as "the transcendental vanishing point of specific spatial, perceptual [and] social arrangements,"138 theory which Giuliana Bruno notes is "[ujnable to account for a collective, nomadic, and historical dimension of 138 Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 4. 57 reception."139 Apparatus theory, in responding to the "deceptive" representational structure and causal narrative of so much Hollywood cinema, tends to assert a spectator that passively submits to the ideological position assigned by the camera.140 This position, or at least its appearance, is that of a coherent subject engaged in visual mastery as the camera's mobility compensates for the spectator's immobility. The spectator's identification with the camera's point of view ultimately conflates the process of perception and the content of representation. This masculinist identification incited by the camera has been the object of feminist critique for three decades as scholars have explored this dissonance between the ideological positioning of the spectator on the screen and the social position of women in the audience.141 Superficially Progressive reformers shared the basic assumption of perceptual passivity, for they wished to use film to reform the character of the unwashed, white-but-not-quite masses. But this assumption entailed a logical contradiction with the equally assumed potential of each and every human being to govern him- or herself. Far from conflating a disavowed perceptual process and an ideological representation, reformers saw perception and representation as a continuum produced through a plethora of different social practices. Rather than serving as a straitjacket, cinema, particularly in its infancy, "exploded this prison-world with the dynamite of the split second," to appropriate Benjamin's famous description.142 Their project was to use the processes of perception and representation to produce agency, albeit of a particular sort. This classic conundrum of how to determine free will was arguably the central question of environmental determinism of the time, a question 1 3 9 Giuliana Bruno, "Streetwalking around Plato's Cave," October 60 (1992): 115. 1 4 0 See for example Jean-Louis Baudry, "Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus," in Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology, ed. Philip Rosen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986 ), 286-298; and Christian Metz, "The Imaginary Signifier," in ibid., 244-278. 1 4 1 For a collection of classic essays, see Sue Thornham, ed., Feminist Film Theory: A Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1999). 1 4 2 Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 3,1935-1938, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002), 117. 58 whose urgency was intensified by the technologies of time-space compression through which the world impinged upon the individual ever more fully and insistently. 2 . 2 . 1 M A K I N G H I S T O R Y I N C I R C U M S T A N C E S N O T O F O N E ' S C H O O S I N G Theorizing Progressive spectatorship is in some ways an exercise in retrospective speculation, because as I showed above, this particular agency of cinema was more often asserted than explained. The "recovery" of modes of spectatorship is a fraught exercise because of the patchiness of archival sources and the impossibility of fully representing such experience in the first place, but the general suspicion of sensationalism and "base passion" that I have outlined is an important indicator of how reformers understood cinema's effect on its audience. To provide a sense of modes of spectatorship and its agency addressed by the regulation of cinema, I will need to triangulate the empirical accounts of spectatorial agency and its social effects provided by reformers and other commentators with more philosophical accounts of subjectivity. But rather than start with philosophical contemporaries of the reformers, I will start in the following generation with Walter Benjamin, who assessed cinema's potential in the aftermath of war and the experience of fascism. Unlike some of his more pessimistic Frankfurt School interlocutors such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who thought cinema and other forms of popular culture simply reflected alienated bourgeois society, Benjamin held out a certain Utopian hope for cinema's ability to facilitate collective political action that in some ways resonates with the hopes held by Progressive era reformers. Not only is Benjamin's work valuable as an assessment of the beginnings of cinema from the perspective of living memory; his thinking on modernity has also inspired an enormous body of recent work on urban experience. I focus here on a strand of recent scholarship that explores the relationship between urban ways of life and cinematic spectatorship, specifically that of Giuliana Bruno, Anne Friedberg, Tom Gunning and Miriam Hansen. These works in many ways have inspired my project, although their projects involve the reconstruction of modern spectatorship per se rather 59 than an understanding of contemporary takes on it. Yet it is helpful to discuss how their understandings of haptic visuality are quite different from Progressive reformers' in order to draw out the very different politics at stake. Simply put, Progressive reformers did not see capitalist relations of production to be inherently alienating, and so their anxieties over the commodification of social relations had a different basis. Their point of reference for their fears over the unmooring of the urban working class from "tradition" and "community" was not the cotton mills of Manchester but the cotton plantations of the South. Their concern was not to abolish the institution of private property underpinning commodified relationships, but to inculcate the sense of self-possession that would allow individuals to effectively interact with their environment and "improve" both themselves and the larger world. This self-possession required a perceptual economy that both used and directed the power of the senses to become a successful subject. This was implicitly an achievement of whiteness, for the imaginative geography of the reformers incorporated a. form of slavery as the free subject's "other" that was indelibly marked with blackness. What is essential to understand is that Progressive reformers, though liberal in their political commitments, did not take the individual to be given a priori as in classical liberal thought. Instead the free individual was a production, and so their understanding of freedom's determination had a very different epistemological basis from either Marxian or liberal accounts of subjectivity and spectatorship, and instead anticipates a number of features in poststructuralist accounts. My project here is to show what mode of spectatorship was the object of regulation, and so I will only be able to make some preliminary observations about its more general utility as a theory of spectatorship and urban subjectivity. In his 1936 essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," Benjamin famously argues, "]ust as the entire mode of existence of human collectives changes over long historical periods, so too does their mode of perception. The way in which human perception is organized — the medium in which it occurs—is conditioned 60 not only by nature but by history."143 He credits art historians Alois Riegl and Franz Wickhoff with being "the first to think of using...art to draw conclusions about the organization of perception at the time the art was produced." However, their limitation was that "[t]hey did not attempt to show the social upheavals manifested in these changes of perception—and perhaps could not have hoped to do so at that time." "But," Benjamin claims, "today, the conditions for an analogous insight are more favorable." What interested him in particular about Riegl's work was his claim that art has developed over time from a haptic144 mode of perception in which the object is close at hand, to an optical perception which relies on a distant observer.145 This is not simply an arbitrary change in artistic style, but a change in human perception. Riegl's fundamental assumption was that "[djefinite knowledge about the enclosed individual unity of single objects we obtain only with our sense of touch."146 But because we touch only individual points, only through repetition of touching can we grasp an object's two-dimensional extensity. Thus our "definite knowledge" of the object is no immediate perception but a combination of multiple perceptions, a combination achieved "necessarily" through the "process of subjective thinking." Riegl argues that sight works the same way, only much faster, and is therefore more "useful" for perceiving extensity than touch. Art was thus beset with a contradiction from its very beginning: "one was not able to avoid a subjective blend in spite of the intended basically objective perception of objects. This latent controversy was the seed for all later development." In short, human perception is inherently subjective. 1 4 3 Ibid., 104. 1 4 4 Rolf Winkes translated "haptisch" as "tactile" instead of "haptic" in Late Roman Art Industry (cited below); but Margaret Iverson points out Riegl chose haptic quite deliberately in order to avoid the physiological connotations of tactile. Margaret Iversen, Alois Riegl: Art History and Theory (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993), 170. 1 4 5 Alois Riegl, Late Roman Art Industry, trans. Rolf Winkes (Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider Editore, 1985), 25. 1 4 6 Ibid., 22. 61 Of course we live in a three-dimensional world, but Riegl argues that "sense perception cannot recognize depth;" it can recognize only planar extensity.147 Thus the two-dimensional representation of depth—space—could be misleading. "But," Riegl asked, "how can material individuality be recognized within the plane, if it does not emerge from the plane at least a little?"1 4 8 Recall, touch is the guarantor of material individuality and objectivity, and while it senses planes, the object's individuation necessarily implies depth and space. "Thus from the very beginning a particular perception of the dimension of depth was required and on this contradiction rests...the basis for the perception of relief in ancient art..."149 Riegl assimilated the dialectic of perception (material object and subjective idea) to the dialectic of representation (two-dimensional senses and three-dimensional perceptions) by proposing his haptic/optic distinction.150 Art, and with it perception, develop, broadly speaking, from a haptic 1 4 7 Ibid., 23. 1 4 8 Ibid., 24. 1 4 9 Ibid. Richard Woodfield, following Joel Snyder, suggests that Benjamin's reading of Riegl may have been a bit off in that Wolfflin was the more likely source of the idea of perceptual change. According to Woodfield, "He [Wolfflin] took the view that the artist's activity was essentially mimetic and that a work of figurative art consisted of an organized response to the visible world." Richard Woodfield, "Reading Riegl's Kunst-Industrie," in Framing Formalism: Riegl's Work, ed. Richard Woodfield (New York: Routledge, 2001), 67; see also Joel Snyder, "Benjamin on Reproducibility and Aura: A Reading of "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility,'" in Benjamin: Philosophy, Aesthetics, History, ed. Gary Smith, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983). Benjamin Binstock interestingly maps the performative onto this "how of representation." Despite the fact that Riegl's theory exclusively concerns visuality and is resolutely non-linguistic, Binstock cites Austin's How to Do Things with Words, underscoring perception as an iterative process. Binstock notes that Riegl's argument is elaborated "in terms of an indexical relation between the paintings and the bodily beholder: the body, mind, and eye of the beholder in the most literal sense" and cites the "performative emphasis on sight and on the role of the beholder" in Rembrandt's paintings. Benjamin Binstock, "I've Got You Under My Skin: Rembrandt, Riegl, and the Will of Art History," in Woodfield, Framing Formalism, 220-221. 1 5 0 Richard Woodfield criticizes current art historians for following Riegl's lead here in "commitfting] the fundamental error of confusing a mode of depiction with a mode of perception, which was the identical mistake made by Riegl in 1901." He terms this "a mimetic stance" that is an exemplary colonial gesture of appropriation. "[John] Willat takes the view that alternative cultures simply represent the world from, literally, different points of view; that is, they are produced out of alternative transformational geometries...To put the matter simply, a 62 vision of a "touchable" outline or contour that guarantees objectivity, to an optic vision that subjectively perceives depth and space in their own right.151 While this is superficially a Hegelian argument about the increasing subjectivity in art, subjectivity is present from the beginning, even in haptic vision. This means that rather than follow a straightforward teleological development across all of human history, a given culture in an identifiable historical period will instead manifest its own internal artistic and perceptual rationality or "intention"—its Kunstwollen. What, then, is the social effect of this dialectic of touch and sight, near and far, depth and extensity, guaranteed and inferred? Benjamin appropriated Riegl's notion of Kunstwollen with its determinate haptic/optic relation in order to explore the social organization of perception in modernity. In the "Work of Art" essay, he brought forward this tension between haptic proximity and optic distance in terms of the loss of the "aura" of art, that is to say its authority based on the presence of an original work with its tangible sense of production and history, and by extension, the authority of other "traditional" human institutions. He clarifies: "What, then, is the aura? A strange tissue of space and time: the unique apparition of a distance, however near it may be. To follow with the eye—while resting on a summer afternoon—a mountain range on the horizon or a branch that casts its shadow on the beholder is to breathe the aura of those mountains, of that branch."152 The eye is a finger that reaches afar to trace the edge of the mountain, while the branch reciprocates by casting its shadow back on the observer. Yet such intersubjectivity is difficult to achieve in capitalist modernity. pub sign for the Admiral Nelson operates as a tag of identity not a depiction of possible resemblance: it's a notation." Ibid., 313. 1 5 1 Margaret Olin notes that Riegl eschewed parallax vision and motor sensations for touch in his account of "tactile" vision. She argues, "It afforded Riegl the opportunity to tie illusory perception, and its representation in art, to physical existence." I'm not so convinced of this reading, as Olin uses "tactile" instead of "haptic" which has the effect in her discussion of eliding the visuality of the haptic. He may have seen touch as the guarantor of objectivity, but haptic vision always already included an element of subjectivity. Margaret Olin, Forms of Representation in Alois Riegl's Theory of Art (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), 134. 1 5 2 Benjamin, "Work of Art," 104-105. 63 The social basis of the aura's present decay.. .rests on two circumstances, both linked to the increasing emergence of the masses and the growing intensity of their movements. Namely: the desire of the present-day masses to "get close" to things, and their equally passionate concern over overcoming each thing's uniqueness by assimilating it as a reproduction. Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at close range in an image, or, better, in a facsimile, a reproduction. And the reproduction, as offered by illustrated magazines and newsreels, differs unmistakably from the image. Uniqueness and permanence are as closely entwined in the latter as are transitoriness and repeatability in the former. The stripping of the veil from the object, the destruction of the aura, is the signature of a perception whose "sense for sameness in the world" has so increased that, by means of reproduction, it extracts sameness even from what is unique.1 5 3 Benjamin's radical separation of the reproduction from the image is of course an argument that "authentic" images have become commodified in capitalist modernity, that, to rephrase Marx's aphorism on commodity fetishism, "[i]t is nothing but the definite social relation between men themselves which assumes in reproductions...the fantastic form of a relation between images."154 Modern spectatorship for Benjamin is a capitalist social relation. This atrophy of the aura is the result of changing modes of production across history, in which "the replacement of the older narration by information, of information by sensation, reflects the increasing atrophy of experience."155 Benjamin's valorization of "experience" comes in the essay, "On Some Motifs of Baudelaire," in which Benjamin explores the experience of modernity in French literature, or more precisely, the "emancipation from experience" found in the work of Charles Baudelaire. He then reads Proust's A la Recherche du temps perdu as an attempt "to restore the figure of the storyteller to the present generation,"156 "an attempt to produce experience synthetically...under today's conditions, for there is less and less hope that it will come 1 5 3 Ibid., 105. 1 5 4 Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Penguin, 1977), 165. 1 5 5 Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 159. !56 ibid. 64 into being naturally."157 Although some commentators point out Benjamin's commitment to a non-teleological dialectic of history, his nostalgia for "authentic" experience is apparent in both "Baudelaire" and "The Storyteller."158 But in "Work of Art," Benjamin suggested there was an opportunity in the continuing dialectical development of the "synthetic experience" of cinema to overcome fascism, as image and reproduction find their synthesis. Benjamin resituates Riegl's claims about the development of perception in terms of social function. "Artistic production begins with figures in the service of magic. What is important for these figures is that they are present, not that they are seen.
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Whitewatching : cinema, race and regulation in the progressive-era United States Olund, Eric Nicholas 2006
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