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Visible Nations: Hollywood's Commodification of "European" Female Stardom from 1929-1939

Kapelke-Dale, R; (2016) Visible Nations: Hollywood's Commodification of "European" Female Stardom from 1929-1939. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

From 1929-1939, a critical period for both US international relations and the Hollywood studio system, a variety of American films featured European women stars. By analyzing Hollywood’s shifting uses and representations of six female stars (Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine, and Vivien Leigh), this thesis establishes Hollywood studios’ relationship to European markets and, in a larger sense, the geopolitics of the era. Hollywood studios created stars of different “nationalities” for particular reasons, many of them economic, at particular times. The ways in which the American film industry used these stars changed across the course of the 1930s. This was influenced by the industry’s increasing awareness of the fragilities and vagaries of foreign markets. In a twist on the classic metonymy of woman as nation (Marianne as France, or the Statue of Liberty as America) the study of Hollywood’s recruitment, creation, and use of European women stars during this time informs our understanding of shifts in geopolitical relationships and political power. These representations of women as the bearers of nationhood illustrate the contingent historical factors, from the Great Depression to the build-up to the Second World War, that emerged as central to Hollywood’s incarnation as a corporate studio system. They demonstrate the ways in which the American film industry contended with complex geopolitical factors external to Hollywood, and how the industry attempted to systematize reactions to such factors in a time of increasing global strife. Consequently, Hollywood's conception of a global audience impacted policy and representation in visible, but subtle, ways.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Visible Nations: Hollywood's Commodification of "European" Female Stardom from 1929-1939
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: Star studies, hollywood history, classic hollywood era, representations of foreignness
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > CMII
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1498804
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