Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
Amusement parks were the playgrounds of the working class in the early twentieth century, combining numerous, mechanically-based spectacles into one unique, modern cultural phenomenon. Lauren Rabinovitz describes the urban modernity engendered by these parks and their media, encouraging ordinary individuals to sense, interpret, and embody a burgeoning national identity. As industrialization, urbanization, and immigration upended society, amusement parks tempered the shocks of racial, ethnic, and cultural conflict while shrinking the distinctions between gender and class. Following the rise of American parks from 1896 to 1918, Rabinovitz seizes on a simultaneous increase in cinema and spectacle audiences and connects both to the success of leisure activities in stabilizing society. Critics of the time often condemned parks and movies for inciting moral decline, yet in fact they fostered women's independence, racial uplift, and assimilation. The rhythmic, mechanical movements of spectacle also conditioned audiences to process multiple stimuli. Featuring illustrations from private collections and accounts from unaccessed archives, Electric Dreamland joins film and historical analyses in a rare portrait of mass entertainment and the modern eye.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
1 Introduction: Artificial Distractions 1
2 Urban Wonderlands: The "Cracked Mirror" of Turn-of-the-Century Amusement Parks 24
3 Thrill Ride Cinema: Hale's Tours and Scenes of the World 66
4 The Miniature and the Giant: Postcards and Early Cinema 96
5 Coney Island Comedies: Slapstick at the Amusement Park and the Movies 136
6 Conclusion: The Fusion of Movies and Amusement Parks 162
Appendix: Directory of Amusement Parks in the United States Prior to 1915 175
Films Cited 219
Selected Bibliography 223
What People are Saying About This
Electric Dreamland is in the vanguard of 'new cinema history.' Lauren Rabinovitz brings to this project her encyclopedic knowledge of early amusement parks, producing a book that definitely fills a gap in linking cinema to another form of leisure and entertainment that depended on technology, bodily sensation, and visual delights. I know of no other book within film studies that examines a topic of this nature or in this manner.
Drawing on original research and richly illustrated from her extensive postcard collection, Rabinovitz's Electric Dreamland offers an innovative analysis of the early 20th century's twin technological entertainments, amusement parks and motion pictures. The book emonstrates how crucial railroads and electricity were to both and how their inextricable development erased conventional notions of urban and rural difference. Amusement parks and motion pictures, she argues, served as unique venues of mass culture for people to adapt to odernity by experiencing its pleasures and dangers first hand and to share in the emergence of a new American national identity.
Richard Abel, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Lauren Rabinovitz's Electric Dreamland is a work of meticulous scholarship and original argument. Focusing on the intersection of early amusements and cinema as sites of modernity, it deepens our knowledge and provokes new insights. Scholars of American popular culture are in her debt.
John F. Kasson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century
Reversing a long-standing trend in film scholarship to isolate cinema from other arts, entertainments, industries and visual sensations, Electric Dreamland is part of a growing body of work that builds an inter-medial reading of cinema's relationship to other early-twentieth-century phenomena. Rabinovitz draws on a wealth of archival materials, ephemera, and experiential data to demonstrate the remarkable inter-dependence of amusement parks and early motion pictures. Never again will the two entertainments be seen in isolation.
Shelley Stamp, University of California, Santa Cruz and author of Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not quite what I expected..... did not even finish