“Hollywood as Site and Symbol in American Culture”

20 Sep

John Parris Springer, Department of English and Film Studies University of Central Oklahoma will present a lecuture entitled, “Hollywood as Site and Symbol in American Culture”  at 3:30pm in Sarkeys Energy Center A235 on Friday, September 24.

Hollywood, and its larger urban context, Los Angeles, has been a central component of our national mythology; a complex, multivalent cultural symbol. Hollywood has been a site, both real and symbolic, for the collision of contradictory energies and agendas: commerce and art, work and leisure, success and failure, sex and death. Hollywood has long possessed a Janus-faced identity as both the “promised land” and the “wasteland,” as an idyllic community of luxurious homes, swimming pools, and verdant lawns yet also the epicenter of cultural crisis and moral disintegration; as a city that kindles dreams of opportunity, wealth, and fame yet most often produces disappointment, disillusionment, and despair. This presentation attempts to recover and explore Hollywood’s symbolic role in national life during the 1920s and 1930s—that is, to trace the various ways in which Hollywood was constructed and understood, examining conflicting ideas concerning its identity and significance, and positioning these competing views within the social and cultural arguments that surrounded the “film capital” in this period. Hollywood, both as an idea and as an actual social space, could be best understood through a series of narratives, stories that often articulated larger ideological and cultural concerns. In this presentation I examine a popular literary genre that took Hollywood and the film industry as its principal subject. But I am also interested in looking at a larger cultural discourse about movies and mass culture that informed popular attitudes toward Hollywood and shaped its literary representations.


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