Michael Cowan’s deeply researched study contends that film clubs, though often overlooked, were pivotal in articulating ideals of spectatorship, notions of cinema’s identity as a medium, and utopian beliefs in film’s transformative power, thereby challenging us to rethink core assumptions of media studies and rewrite film history.
Rielle Navitski, University of Georgia
Richly detailed, meticulously researched, and convincingly argued, Michael Cowan's strikingly original study provides an invaluable account of the precursors, aims, activities, and social functions of film societies that operated apart from the theatrical film business in early twentieth-century Germany and Austria. In so doing, Cowan reframes how we should think about the historical import of such groups, whose practices and presumptions testified in vastly different ways to the significant possibilities and manifold utility of cinema.
Gregory A. Waller, Editor of Film History