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A media historian, Mark Lynn Anderson is interested in deviance as it relates to the communications industries of the early twentieth century, particularly the cinema. His research considers how non-normative ways of being in the world have been engaged with and negotiated by emergent media institutions and by the forces of media regulation and control. He is currently working on two large projects.
The first, “Manufacturing American Film History,” is a reappraisal of the earliest historical writings on the American film industry written between 1915 and 1935, specifically those accounts that were produced by the studios themselves in their in-house publications, annual reports, legal papers, internal correspondence, and advertising. By reading such documents as legitimate historical writing, by treating them as secondary sources rather than as primary ones, Anderson seeks to reveal how the assumptions and protocols of contemporary film history are deeply indebted to a 90-year-old corporate legacy.
Anderson’s second project, “The Hollywood Authorship of Dorothy Davenport Reid,” examines the aberrant and increasingly marginalized production contexts that enabled one of the most important American women filmmakers of the silent period to emerge as a popular authority on deviance and delinquency until forced to close her own production company during the industrial transition to sound. This project adds to the growing literature documenting both the increasing attenuation of women’s creative and managerial authority in the American film industry during the late silent period, as well as the continuing forgetfulness about women’s central productive role in the development of world cinema.
Anderson has published several book chapters and journal articles on celebrity scandal, the early star system, film historiography, motion picture censorship and regulation, and early film education.
- Twilight of the Idols: Hollywood and the Human Sciences in 1920s America