Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2007—2008 Forum on Origins
Assistant Professor, English
Franklin & Marshall College
Britain’s Hollywood: American Influence, the Movies, and the Erasure of Origin
In the years between the wars, Hollywood cinema began to enjoy unparalleled global popularity and, in the eyes of many in Britain, to herald a new era of American influence. To its British detractors, Hollywood threatened to undermine British values abroad as well as to americanize the working classes at home. Americanization, also marked by the spread of such mass-produced commodities as jazz records and Ford motor cars, seemed capable of erasing cultural specificity altogether. As a result, critics such as F.R. Leavis furiously invented lost origins through nostalgic return to English folk and literary traditions. Dr. Abravanel will consider how this interwar reinvention of English culture rests on reactions against such American mass forms as the Hollywood film.