Ruth Mayer (Leibniz Universität Hannover): Managing Complexity. Modernity, the Film Serial, and the Hazards of Neverending Storytelling
Öffentlicher Abendvortrag im Rahmen der Internationalen Sommerakademie des ZfL 2018: Epos und Episode
Film serials were immensely popular formats of storytelling in the silent and early sound cinema, and my talk will focus on the longest American silent film serial: The Hazards of Helen, which ran between 1914 and 1917 in 119 episodes of about 20 minutes each, amounting to about 24 hours of film. As a pre-cliffhanger serial, The Hazards of Helen engages in episodic storytelling, enacting story after story around an athletic heroine facing the dangerous and demanding challenges of modernity. Week after week, this film serial tells the same story all over again, using up a series of actresses in its course. In doing so, it generates storyworlds that are not so much organized in a linear fashion, but rather rely upon the narrative principles of sprawl or concrescence. It is both long and short, slow and rushed, epical and episodic at the same time. My talk will investigate this narrative logic in close conjunction with the larger contexts of modern mass culture in the United States.
Ruth Mayer ist Professorin für American Studies an der Leibniz Universität Hannover. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte sind die transatlantische Moderne, Massenkultur, Stummfilm und die Verfahren von Serialisierung und Verkürzung. Sie leitet das DFG-geförderte Forschungsprojekt Contingency and Contraction: Modernity and Temporality in the United States, 1880–1920 (2018–2021).