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A lesson from 1915
In the intervening years, the field of silent-film studies has burgeoned, andit now seems astonishing to look back thirty years to the situation when we launchedour project. Its twenty-fifth anniversary inevitably leads me to wonder whatI would do differently now.
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The value of worker innovations is material, and CHC tried to show howthe contradictory nature of capitalism rewarded both adherence to and variationfrom the norms (both standardization and differentiation). Thatobservation works not only for the system but also for the individual operatingwithin Hollywood. Both economic and stylistic analysis points toa bounded set of options that have flexibility to change. Such anobservation is not one solely available to scholars. People working withinthe industry may witness it operating. I stressed in my evaluationof the Hollywood mode of production that an ideological attitude about authorshiphad permeated the industry by the 1930s (CHC, 336). It isscarcely a grand observation to note that discourses resembling early forms ofauteurism appear in industry and educational venues; D. W. Griffith even putout ads in trade papers in the early teens claiming he invented various stylisticpractices (see ).Thus, promoting one’s self has been, throughout the history of Hollywood,part of labor practices. Analyzingauthorship as a determined and historical agency continues as one of my on-goingresearch agendas.