Keeping History Fresh

Perusing Charles Musser's intro to a special issue of Film History devoted to 30's documentary (v. 18), I was struck by this claim: "For the history of any period or any subject to retain its vitality (for instance, the history of documentary in the 1930s), it needs to be rewritten from fresh perspectives and enriched with new sources and kinds of information." Not earthshattering, since he's essentially codifying the logic of the academic field, but a nice statement of my motto nonetheless. I'm convinced that there is much more to be said about postwar Hollywood if we look closely at the period - its films and their contexts. And not simply in that completist Borgesian map sort of way. Rather, in general in our field, the assumptions about the period have remained the same for some time and are due for reexamination. (It's also pleasing me to see documentary studies get that kind of reexamination.)

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