Genevieve Abravanel

Penn Humanities Forum Regional Fellow

20072008 Forum on Origins

Genevieve Abravanel

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.