British Cinema and Middlebrow Culture in the Interwar Years
Subjects: Film History
British Cinema and Middlebrow Culture in the Interwar Years offers an understanding of British Cinema between 1928 and 1939 through an analysis of the relationship between the British film industry and other ‘culture industries’ such as the radio, music recording, publishing and early television.
This relationship has been seen as a weakness of the British film-making tradition, but Lawrence Napper stages a re-appraisal of that tradition, arguing that it is part of a specific strategy of differentiation from Hollywood cinema, designed to appeal to the ‘middlebrow’ aesthetic of the most rapidly expanding audience of the period—the lower middle class.
Lawrence Napper argues that the ‘middlebrow’ reputation for aesthetic conservatism masks an audience and popular culture marked by dynamism. ‘Middlebrow’ texts addressed a British audience on the move, physically (into the new suburbs), socially (as upwardly mobile consumers), economically (employed in new and developing industries, and involved in new modes of living), and culturally (embracing new forms of mass cultural consumption, such as the cinema, the wireless and the best-selling novel). The ability of these audiences to adapt cultures of the past to the media of modern life (through stage or screen adaptations) ensured their negative reputation amongst Modernist commentators and intellectual elites.
‘Napper writes with both intelligence and vitality’ (Amy Sargeant, Modernism/Modernity vol. 17, no. 2: April 2010)
‘A cogent and scholarly intervention in an interesting ongoing historical debate.
“Exeter Studies in Film History”, edited by Richard Maltby and Steve Neale for the University of Exeter Press, now comprises more than a dozen scholarly volumes re-thinking and re-evaluating what was for long the received history of the movies.’ (Ian Jarvie, Film History 22.3: 2010)
‘This is a diligently researched approach to the cultural debate, with much to recommend.’(Andrew Thomas Croft, Historical Journal of Film, Radio & TV, 31.1., 2011)
Lawrence Napper is a lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Greenwich; he was Senior Researcher on the British Cinema History Research Project for four years at UEA, and has appeared on BBC4’s ‘The Cinema Show’. Publications include Silent Cinema: film from 1914 to 1929 (forthcoming) and chapters in various books published by Routledge, Manchester UP, BFI Publishing.
New Titles List
Exeter Studies in Film History
- 'Film Europe' And 'Film America' - Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange 1920-1939
- Alternative Empires - European Modernist Cinemas and Cultures of Imperialism
- Alternative Film Culture in Interwar Britain
- The Big Show - British Cinema Culture in the Great War (1914-1918)
- British Cinema and Middlebrow Culture in the Interwar Years
- Charles Urban - Pioneering the Non-Fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897 - 1925
- A Chorus Of Raspberries - British Film Comedy 1929-1939
- Going to the Movies - Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema
- The Great Art Of Light And Shadow - Archaeology of the Cinema
- Hollywood, Westerns And The 1930S - The Lost Trail
- Legitimate Cinema - Theatre Stars in Silent British Films, 1908-1918
- Marketing Modernity - Victorian Popular Shows and Early Cinema
- Multimedia Histories - From Magic Lanterns to Internet
- Parallel Tracks - The Railroad and Silent Cinema
- A Paul Rotha Reader
- Popular Filmgoing in 1930s Britain - A Choice of Pleasures
- Reading the Cinematograph - The Cinema in British Short Fiction, 1896-1912
- The World According To Hollywood,1918-1939
- Young And Innocent? - The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930