"Tracking the Nontheatrical: The American Cinema in 1915"
Waller describes his talk as follows:
Instead of asking "what is cinema?" I propose reframing this question: what was cinema in a specific time and place-say, in the United States in 1915, the year of the Mutual Decision and The Birth of a Nation, Chaplin’s The Tramp and the continuing consolidation of Hollywood? And, further, how was this historically specific cinema constituted and constructed not only though films, production practices, and industry-driven discourses, but also though the circulation and exhibition of moving pictures outside as well as inside of what we think of as the film industry and the commercial movie theater? Framed in this way, the nontheatrical figures as an essential aspect of the history of cinema. Like the often-related notion of educational film, the nontheatrical has no singular or constant meaning, for it is historically grounded, always subject to redefinition and realignment. Focusing on the traces left in local newspapers, trade magazines, and other publications, I'll track, in a preliminary way, how certain versions of the non-theatrical and the educational--separately or in tandem--were understood, promoted, and put into practice in 1915.