University of Exeter Press

Parallel Tracks

The Railroad and Silent Cinema

    • 348 Pages

    From its earliest days, the cinema has enjoyed a special kinship with the railroad, a mutual attraction based on similar ways of handling speed, visual perception, and the promise of a journey. PARALLEL TRACKS is the first book to explore and explain this relationship in both historical and theoretical terms, blending film scholarship with railroad history.

    This highly original work reveals the profound impact that the railroad and the cinema have had on Western society and modern urban industrial culture. It will be eagerly received by those involved in film studies, American studies, feminist theory and the cultural study of modernity. It will also have appeal to general readers interested in silent films or in the history of the railroad.

    Irresistible—Parallel Tracks is a highly original and unique work. Kirby’s intersection of theoretical concerns with a rich exploration of the relation between cinema and the railway provides a work that is fascinating, intriguing, and intellectually entertaining.

    Tom Gunning, Northwestern University

    Lynne Kirby switches elegantly between the registers of historical account, theoretical speculation, intertextual mapping, and close analysis. She enriches the genre of cultural histories of technology with detailed attention to the apparatus and textual processes elaborated over the past two decades in cinema studies. And she enriches the latter by opening up the focus from cinema to include related institutions and the dynamics of the public sphere that encompasses and is shaped by both.

    Miriam Hansen, University of Chicago

    The triumph of this book is in bringing film theory and social history together to form a powerful collective that makes this examination of these two key industries compulsive reading.

    Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 18, No. 3, 1998

    Kirby's well-researched and well-written text places the separate, but as the author convincingly argues, conceptually related phenomena of silent cinema and the railway within both historical and theoretical contexts.

    American Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, 1998

    1. Inventors and Hysterics: The Train in the Prehistory and Early History of Cinema
    2. Romances of the Rail in Silent Film
    3. The Railroad in the City
    4. National Identity in the Train Film
    Works Cited

    Lynne Kirby is a Senior Producer at Court Television Network. Her articles on the railroad and cinema have appeared in major American film journals.